Parenting Tips for a Safe Halloween

Looks like we may be somewhat getting back to “normal” this year, or at least partially, so I thought it was a good time for some safety tip reminders.

You may be one of those parents who feel that trick or treating just isn’t safe anymore. There is risk in approaching a stranger’s home as well as eating what may be given to them as a treat. Still, it seems a shame to forgo a holiday that has always been such fun for kids and adults. There’s no need for this…if you take precautions.  

Perhaps, as an alternative, you’ve considered taking them to a community center or church-sponsored party. Great idea! This may well be a safer way to celebrate. However, you need to attend the party with them, especially if they’re small, and always keep an eye on them. It’s still an environment where others are in control and many strangers are in attendance. While it may be safer than trick or treating, your child can disappear in a moment. Keep watch!

If you have an older child, be sure he/she has a cell phone to use in case of an emergency, and be sure it’s charged before leaving the house. If there is a party in the plan, make sure you know where they will be and speak to the parents beforehand. Know the route that will be taken getting to the party and home again in case you must go looking. Be sure your child knows to call if there is a change in plans. Set a curfew and discuss the consequences of breaking it with your child.

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It’s unfortunate, but you should also use the internet to check neighborhoods for registered sex offenders. Most local and state governments have websites that have a list with their addresses. Just enter the zip code. Of course, not all register but some knowledge is better than none. Discuss these with the kids making sure they understand why they must avoid these addresses. You will need to determine the best way to share your concerns with your child. There are GPS Trackers available for additional peace of mind.

If you decide to let them trick or treat, go with them if possible. If not, ask another adult to take responsibility for them. Make sure it’s understood by all that your child is never allowed to enter a stranger’s house or car. Tell your child to run back to you (or their guardian) if anyone makes them feel uncomfortable or afraid. Let the child practice running and calling for help. While the child will regard this as a fun game, it also reinforces the action and will bring it to mind should the need arise.  

Halloween Costumes

Look for a safe costume that allows good peripheral vision and is treated with a fire retardant. A better option would be to paint their faces. You can buy face paint or make your own. Just check online for a recipe. The best costume I ever saw was homemade. The person was made up and dressed as a male on one side and female on the other. Looking at either side was pretty cool, but the straight-on view was bizarre. Try to find a costume that doesn’t have props that could trip the child when walking. For example, carrying a pitchfork with one hand and a container for candy in the other can create a problem. However, that little pitchfork or other small plastic prop could be attached to the costume with a few handsewn stitches. A small flashlight attached to the costume or reflective tape will make it easier to see your child in the dark. 

Feed your child a meal before going trick or treating and tell him/her not to eat any treats until they are back home, and you have checked it. Throw out anything that appears to have been tampered with, as well as all homemade treats. It’s a shame but better safe than sorry. Look for any kind of puncture hole in fruit. 

Halloween can be just as much fun for the kids as you remember from your childhood if you stress safety first. 

Trick or Treat Rules

Layout the ground rules. The number one rule for any age is never to go into a stranger’s house. If you’re taking a child trick or treating, let them know that you or a designated guardian must always be in sight before ringing the doorbell. In their excitement, it’s easy for them to run ahead and become separated from you. 

Remind children that extra care should be taken before crossing a street. Make sure your child knows to go from house to house on one side of the street before crossing at the corner and coming back down the other side. Zigzagging back and forth across the street can lead to disaster unless you are walking with them. Also, try to walk with others for security. Excited younger kids probably won’t be paying much attention. There will be people celebrating in cars as well as parents driving along with their kids instead of walking with them. It’s just a fact that attention is going to be distracted so tell the kiddies to double-check both directions before crossing a street. Or better yet, wait for you.

Halloween Safety for Teens

For generations, Halloween has been a holiday looked forward to by children. Who doesn’t like the opportunity to pretend to be someone (or something) else for a little while? It may be hard for teens to let go of that childhood adventure, so let them enjoy it while they can. However, the world has changed, and safety is more of an issue now than ever before. While this doesn’t mean they can’t celebrate, it does mean they have to be careful, both for themselves and for any younger siblings that they are supervising. 

Even though teens are more mature than younger children, they still need to be reminded of the dangers. If your teen will be taking the kids trick or treating, have a discussion with the younger children about the danger of strangers and why it’s important for them to listen to their older siblings and follow the rules. Teens need to understand that the same applies to them, whether they are responsible for younger kids or have their own plans to celebrate. 

Is your teen going out to a Halloween teen party? It’s important for them to let you know where they will be and who they will be with. If they are attending a party, call the other parents before your teen is allowed to go. Explain that you are concerned for their safety. And they are not to leave the party without notifying you. Teens can disappear just as easily as the little ones!

If your teen will be driving, make sure the car is full of gas. No one wants to run out and be stuck in a secluded, dark place like a scary movie (Think of Elm Street!) or any place where someone could be hiding. Also, make sure they have a cell phone, and it is fully charged. And emphasis no drinking and driving!

Because safety is such an issue at Halloween, parents are bound to worry about their children no matter what age, while they are out. To make it easier for everyone, discuss a curfew with them before they leave. Not only will this relieve your anxiety, but it will also help develop your trust in your teen, and isn’t this what your teen wants? 

Another topic to discuss with your teen is to make sure they understand that vandalism is never cool, no matter what their friends may say. Pranks are bad too, in that cleaning up TP-ed yards is messy and time-consuming for the homeowner. Thrown eggs can ruin the finish on a car. Splashed paint on a house can cost the homeowner hundreds of dollars. And if they are caught, they can be arrested and punished. Being a juvenile is no excuse for a wrong act. Ask them how they would feel if the situation were reversed. 

Some people seem to think Halloween is an excuse for doing harm to animals. Cats seem to be a particular target, possibly because of the tales of witches and their cats. Your child needs to know that cruelty is never acceptable behavior. Outside of the fact that a helpless living thing should never be hurt, animal cruelty is punishable by law. Insist they do not engage in this and to try to stop others. If stopping someone from harming animals isn’t possible, walk away and do not stick around to be charged as an accessory to the crime.

Open discussion between you and your teen concerning safety should ease your mind and leave your teen free to have a great time.

If you missed it, last week I shared these Healthy Halloween Candy Alternatives.

Hope everyone has a Happy Halloween!

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