Halloween is just under three weeks away, so it’s time to begin thinking about ensuring it will be a safe night for you and your children. This is the fifth in a series of articles about how to do just that.
While Halloween can be an exciting time for the entire family, it is also a time when grown-ups, especially parents, need to be hyper-vigilant. It definitely is not a night for parents to dump their children in a neighborhood, and then return later for them, nor is it a time to not know where your children are.
Even if you take your kids to an event sponsored by a group you know, like your church, community center or their school, you still need to keep an eye on them. Even though, on the surface, it appears less dangerous, remember there are going to be lots of people there you probably don’t know.
Cell phones are everywhere now. Make sure your child has an affordable, pre-programmed one with him/her if they go out Halloween night. Ensure all the important numbers are already there and ready for their use. If this will be the first time your child has had a cell phone, be sure you teach him/her how to use it before they leave home.
Here are some tips to help grown-ups keep their kids safe Halloween night. They are paraphrased from The Halloween Safety™ website.
- Although it may sound over-cautious, get on the Internet and check your local state website for sex offenders. Look up your zip code – it should have a list of registered offenders in your area that includes street addresses. Make sure your kids stay away from those houses!
- If you aren’t going out with your children, be sure to know the route they will be traveling. Make sure they know not to deviate from that route so you will know where they are. Have them check in with you at least once an hour, either by phone or by stopping by the house.
- It is no longer safe to allow kids to walk streets alone. If you cannot go with them, arrange for them to travel with others who will have reliable adult supervision.
- Know what other activities your child may be attending – parties, school or church functions, or special events at a mall or business. If they are going to a friend’s house for a party, it is wise to have met the friend’s parents in advance. You should also have the phone number of the friend.
- Be sure to give your kids a curfew if you are not going to be with them. Stress the importance of their getting home by that curfew or of calling you immediately if something happens which will cause them to be delayed.
- Ensure your kids fully understand the difference between the “tricks” of trick or treating and vandalism. If, for some reason, your child is caught vandalizing something, make him/her take ownership of the situation and clean it up/fix it, if at all possible. Your kids need to know that acts of vandalism can result in their being arrested and possibly serving time in juvenile detention.
- Remind your kids that hurting animals is never an acceptable thing to do. Stress they are not to be involved in any acts of cruelty as well as to report any acts of cruelty they may happen to observe.
- Serve your kids a healthy, filling meal prior to their going out to trick or treat. This will make them less tempted to gorge themselves on the candy they gather before you have the chance to check it.
- Make sure that any props your child may be carrying have smooth and flexible tips to help avoid injuries should they fall. Make sure the costume fits well enough that it is not too snug as to be uncomfortable, yet not so loose that your child will trip over it.
- Have your kids carry flashlights or light sticks or wear glow strips on their costumes so they can be seen easily not only by you but also by those driving.
- STRESS to your kids about the IMPORTANCE of NOT getting into a STRANGER’s VEHICLE, no matter what kind of story the person tells them. Explain to them that some people do bad things and want to hurt children, so they should NEVER go near a stranger. If a stranger tries to engage them in conversation, or tries to grab them, tell them they should scream as loud as they can and run away as fast as they can to some place that is safe. (The chances of this happening are lessened if your child is with you or if they are trick or treating with a group that has reliable adults.)
- If you live somewhere that crossing the street is not a natural part of the day, be sure you teach your child the proper way to do so. Remind them to look both ways before they step into the street and to only cross at corners or crosswalks. If you have more than one child, make sure the older ones know to take the hand of the younger ones before crossing the street.
Teaching your children these safety tips – then ensuring they are followed – will not only provide your family a safe, fun and happy Halloween, it will also provide them the tools they need to continue the tradition with their children.
Stay tuned for other tips to make your Halloween celebration a fun one.