- Buddy up! Even teens shouldn’t go trick-or-treating alone. Under-tens should usually be with a trusted adult or teenager. Pre-teens might be allowed out sans parents, but need to know that they should always stay with the group. Not only does TOTing alone make them more of a target for anyone planning anything unsavory, but it also means that in the case of an accidental injury, they won’t have a friend nearby to alert an adult immediately. Insist that they buddy up and stay together the entire evening.
- Check their costumes. Face paint is safer than masks, because masks can impede vision. If your child is dressed all in dark shades, put reflectors on the back of his costume, or have him carry a glow-in-the-dark treat bag. Make sure that no one is tripping over his costume and that shoes fit properly. Be sure that any swords or toy knives being carried are soft or flimsy enough that kids can’t injure themselves or others. Finally, give each child a flashlight or glowstick to boost visibility.
- Keep your eye out for candle-lit jack o’lanterns or luminaries. It only takes a brush with a long costume to cause painful and potentially serious burns. Don’t leave your own flame-lit decorations out; use them in the house or in a window to keep trick-or-treaters safe.
- Know their route. If you’re going with the kids, then it’s okay to make spontaneous changes to the plan, of course, but if the kids are on their own, then make sure you know the route that they’re planning to take, and be sure that they understand that they’re not to change the plan without telling you first. Have them avoid busy streets or poorly-lit areas.
- Teach the kids that they’re not to enter anyone’s home unless you have specifically given permission to do so. While it is fine for kids to go into the homes of trusted neighbors, they should know not to go into the home of a stranger. Also, check the sex offender website for your area and if you’re not accompanying kids, have them skip any homes of known sex offenders. Better safe than sorry.
- Instruct kids not to eat anything until they get home and you’re able to check the candy. Unless you know the people who handed them out, discard any homemade items. Also toss any candy that has a torn wrapper. The chances of anyone tampering with Halloween candy are low, but it’s always better to err on the side of caution when it comes to food safety.
Most of the time, a little common sense will take you far when it comes to Halloween safety. Have a ghoulishly good time!
SECRET WORD: HALLOWEEN