Living Well: Tips for a safe Halloween — Taking the real scares out of trick or treat
Letting our kids roam the streets at night is not something we generally allow, except, that is, on Halloween. It’s a holiday that’s made for a bit of rowdy fun. When kids are young, it’s easy. You simply go with them around a block or two and call it a night.
It’s during the later elementary years when things can get a little spooky — letting them go off on their own with their friends. If you are not quite comfortable with that, following are some tips to keep the night safe and focused on fun, rather than on dangers that could be lurking around the next corner.
Do a costume check
Encourage your children to choose costumes that don’t set them up for trips or falls. Wearing long capes or gowns can mean tripping over a bump in the sidewalk, as can masks. Forego awkward or non-flexible props. Help make them more kids visible by putting reflective tape on the back of their costumes, or insist they carry a flashlight or glow stick to enhance visibility.
Review safety rules
It may have been a few years since you’ve told your older child to look twice before crossing the road, but it’s OK to do it on Halloween night. According to SafeKids Worldwide, twice as many kids are killed while out and about on Halloween than any other night of the year. Remind them of the buddy system — stick together — and to stay on well-lit strees. That means no cutting through alleys and lawns. Remind them to stay on the sidewalk (no walking in the street!), to cross at the corners or at lights, and to watch for cars backing out of driveways.
Beware of strangers
Reinforce the stranger danger concept Halloween night, and request they don’t visit homes without the porchlight on or step inside anyone’s home. Have them wait to eat their loot until they get home, dump it out, and inspect it. Any opened candy should be thrown out immediately. When someone offers a homemade or unwrapped treat, encourage kids to politely decline. Remind them to never accept a ride, even if they recognize the driver as an acquaintance or neighbor. It’s smart to role play different situations they might encounter. You might get an eye roll, but doing so gives them instant language to use in tight situations. For safety sake, send along a school ID or an ID card with your emergency number on it.
Leave dogs at home
If you are taking your kids out, resist the urge to bring Fido along, no matter how well-behaved a dog he is. Crowds, doorbells, and dark figures can surprise even the mellowest dog, and dogs have been known to get loose and lost on Halloween night.
Give young teens a break
When answering your door, try not to judge if you see a group of kids who look a tad too old to be trick or treating. It’s difficult hard age —between child and adult — and there’s no night quite as fun to revert to being a child as Halloween. Finally, don’t assume that just because a child is tall, he or she is a teen. Some elementary-aged kids can reach 6 feet in height.
If you don’t want your teens trick-or-treating, consider hosting a Halloween party. Let your kids come up with the ideas, then go all in.
It’s common for parents to feel some fear on Halloween night. Lessen your worries by getting in key safety messages before they head out the door.
“A Long Time That I’ve Loved You,” this week’s picture book for children was written by Margaret Wise Brown, the author of “Goodnight Moon,” published in 1947 — a classic in children’s literature. The illustrations for this week’s book, done by Kate Hudson, are breathtaking.