Our kids and grandkids look forward to Halloween almost as much as Christmas. They start thinking months in advance about cool costumes and which neighbors have the best treats and scary decorations. While some of the scary parts of Halloween can be fun—costumes, decorations, spooky noises—parents are often scared about all the dangers to their kids that can be “out there.
Common Dangers or things parents worry about include: Falls, fire hazards, unsafe treats, choking, encounters with strangers, getting hit by cars or bikes, getting lost, getting cold, and not being able to sleep because of a seemingly inevitable sugar high
General Tips include following any rules your town may have about how early or late kids are allowed to be out; setting a return-home time or a place to meet if they get separated from you or a group; just to be on the safe side—remembering to take your cell phone, house keys and ID with you when you accompany your kids; and if you can’t go with your kids, arranging for them to be part of a group, for safety-in-numbers’ sake.
Tips to Counteract 10 Common Halloween Dangers or Worries:
- Falls: Masks can block a child’s vision, especially on the sides. Try face paint or other makeup instead, but be sure it’s hypoallergenic and doesn’t get in their eyes. Little princesses, pirates and witches can also trip over costumes that are too long.
- Unsafe Costumes: Besides being the right length for walking, costumes should be flame-resistant. Unfortunately, yard decorations sometimes include candles in bags or pumpkins. Only allow accessories like swords, wands or guns that are made of soft plastic and won’t hurt anyone.
- Unsafe Treats: Go through your children’s “loot” before you allow them to eat anything. Throw out treats that aren’t wrapped. If you have a child with allergies, especially to peanuts, be sure treats don’t contain nuts. Really gooey or hard candy can stick to or even break teeth. Especially with younger kids, be sure the candy isn’t so small or so big that it’s a choking hazard.
- Darkness: Dark streets and sidewalks with uneven surfaces pose a number of hazards, especially for little goblins who are in a hurry to get to the next house. Try to go out early and carry a flashlight. If kids are going out without you, make sure they only go on streets where they’ve been before. Going with a group is also a good idea. Remind them to stay on sidewalks and cross streets only at corners &/or crosswalks.
- Strangers: Probably well-meaning people might invite your kids to come in to show off their costumes. Make going in an absolute No-No! Tell them not to go to houses where the porch light isn’t on. Little kids should stay away from big kids who might think it’s funny to give them a scare. Tell them to run, if anyone seems scary in a bad way.
- Moving Vehicles: Cars or even kids on bikes might run into trick-or-treaters in dark clothing, or who suddenly dart into the street. Have them wear something that reflects light or carry a glow stick. Remind them to stay on sidewalks, listen and watch for kids on bikes, scooter or skate boards and yield to them.
- Getting Lost: If your neighborhood has lots of trick-or-treaters, it might be easy for the younger ones to get confused and feel lost in the crush. As in #4, if kids are going out without you, make sure they only go on streets where they’ve been before and pair a younger child with an older one.
- Getting Cold: Keep an eye on the forecast for the night of Halloween and dress your kids accordingly. When buying or making costumes, make sure a coat will fit over or under them. Warm underwear, heavy socks, gloves, a hat or ear muffs and hand warmers will all help to keep your child comfortable. Don’t forget to dress the same way yourself!
- Unsafe neighborhoods: If you don’t feel safe sending your kids out at night in your neighborhood, consider an alternative. Some neighborhoods, churches or businesses host a “Trunk-or-Treat” activity in a parking lot. The kids dress up and go from car to car to get their treats from people they know. Some malls have treats in their stores for kids in costume. Some businesses allow employees to invite their kids in during the afternoon to get a treat from employees who want to participate. And you could always host your own Halloween party.
- Sugar high: Teachers dread the school day after Halloween, because most of the kids are on a “sugar high” and have lots of extra energy. To keep your kids from being the culprits, have an early dinner first, and don’t let them eat anything while you’re out. When you get home, go through the candy to weed out any of the risks in #3. Then divide it up into little bags of what they are allowed to eat per day after Halloween. Include the bags in school lunches or dole them out as rewards for helping & other good behavior. They will expect you to let them eat more candy than usual on that night, so you might have to let them stay up a little later in order to calm down enough to sleep.