October is Halloween Safety Month.
If you’re planning on trick-or-treating with your grandchildren this year, beware, be safe, be careful. Each October, more and more words of caution and safety tips hit the airwaves and print. Why?
- Nearly 94 percent of children between the ages of four and twelve participate in Halloween activities each year.
- Halloween has the highest rates of child-related pedestrian injuries.
- Children are four times more likely to suffer a pedestrian-related injury on Halloween than on any other night of the year.
Way back when we were kids, what’s the worst thing that could have happened when we went out trick-or-treating? Getting cold or drenched? Getting a tummy ache for over-indulging in sweets? That was the 50’s.
When our own kids were old enough to go out trick-or-treating, we were scared straight with national reports of candy laced with poison or drugs, pins or razors found in apples and candy, and bullies stealing candy from the little ones. Ever-vigilant, we carefully examined the booty our kids brought home and any candy deemed suspicious, opened, or tampered with was quickly tossed in the trash. We shook our heads in sadness and thought, “What ever happened to the idea that trick-or-treating on Halloween is supposed to be fun?” That was the 70’s and ‘80’s.
Fast forward to 2013. Sex offenders, child predators, and bullies are making headlines. Did you know that sex offenders are allowed to hand out candy to kids during trick-or-treat in most states? The National Center for Missing & Exploited Children (NCMEC) reminds parents to take basic safety precautions that will make Halloween a safer night of fun. We all need to be aware that there are real dangers out there – no matter where you live or how safe you think your neighborhood may be -- and there’s not a parent, grandparent, or guardian who should poo-poo these warnings.
Beyond that, costume choice is making headlines, from the sexiest, the scariest, the funniest to the most outrageous. Gone are the days of innocence -- superheroes andand princesses. Remember Lady Gaga's raw meat costume? It was the most popular costume of 2010.
This year, anything TV- or movie-inspired rules. You'll still find little princesses, superheroes, and pirates, and monsters, but "walking dead" zombies have gone high-tech and some come with their own iPhone or Android apps which make the costumes come alive, showing organs, etc. (By the way, for adults: of 1500 surveyed via Pinterest and FB, one in two were going to do something from Duck Dynasty (beards and camo) and the rest? Something sexy.)
This Halloween, be prepared – do a little homework before you take the kids or grandkids out trick-or-treating. Pre-screen your neighborhood and check to make sure your neighborhood is safe. Family Watchdog has a national registry of offenders.
Most of the following Halloween safety tips are common sense tips meant to keep Halloween safe and fun for you and your kids/grandkids.
- Purchase costumes which contain a label that indicates it is Flame Resistant.
- Choose costumes that are light-reflective or wear white and add reflective tape on the back, top, shoes, front of the costume, and on treat bags.
- Costumes should be short enough to keep kids from tripping.
- Children should dress for the weather. Keep hats and scarves away from eyes and nose.
- If possible, have kids wear facepaint instead of a mask so they can see better. If they MUST wear a mask, make sure it doesn’t obstruct vision or breathing.
- Pre-plan a route (and stick to it) and trick-or-treat in your own neighborhood, only on well-lit streets.
- Make sure young children are always accompanied by an adult when they go door-to-door. Never let children, even teens, trick-or-treat alone. At least 3 in the group is a good start.
- Children and/or their accompanying adult should carry a flashlight and a cellphone. (Check the batteries the day before you go out and replace old ones if needed.)
- Be very cautious of strangers. Never accept candy or a ride from someone you don’t know, no matter how bad the weather.
- Only accept treats in the doorway – never go inside.
- Leave your porch light on so children will know it's OK to visit your home, and by the same token, visit only houses where the lights are on.
- Walk (don’t run) on sidewalks and driveways and stay out of the street. If there are no sidewalks, walk on the left side of the street facing cars.
- If you’re putting a jack-o-lantern out for display, keep it well away from the doorway; likewise, don’t let the kids play near a lit jack-o-lantern.
- Teach the kids to never eat anything until it has been inspected at home. Dispose of anything unwrapped and check for evidence of tampering. Call the police if there are any suspicious treats.
- Make sure that any costume accessories, like swords, pitchforks, knives, etc. are made of soft and flexible materials. Wouldn’t want to “put an eye out”!
To receive Ellen Jacob’s articles in your in-box, click SUBSCRIBE. It’s FREE and your email will never be shared with anyone. Share your funny, cute, awwww! grand-giggles by emailing me at: firstname.lastname@example.org and type GRANDGIGGLES in the Subject Line.