For some kids and families, Halloween is the most exciting holiday of the entire year. The air is alive with the sounds of leaves crackling underfoot and the scent of candlelit jack o’lanterns. Kids shout to each other as they run from house to house trick-or-treating in creative costumes.
But parents worry on this spooky night. Are their kids safe? They’re especially concerned if their trick-or-treaters want to go out with a group, without Mom or Dad.
Fortunately, there are many different ways to make sure your children are safe before sending them out on this year’s Halloween adventure. Let’s take a look at a few.
1. Use Tech to Track Your Kids
If your children insist on going trick-or-treating without an adult, set some ground rules. They must go in a group, stay together, and remain within a certain area. Have your child wear a kids GPS watch so you can tell where they are. You can set “safe zones” on the watch, which lets you know when they enter and exit safe places. If they have a problem, the watch also serves as a cellphone.
Another item they can carry is an electronic tracker tag. This can be dropped in a trick-or-treat bag or a pocket and can be monitored by you using the accompanying app. Again, you can program safe zones, depending on the specific locator tag. Larger tags have the advantage of two-way talk, although they are not cellphones per se.
2. Keep Costume Safety at the Forefront
Pulling out Mom’s tulle-laden prom dress or Dad’s old blazer as part of a Halloween costume isn’t always the best idea. Choose costumes — especially for your little ones —that are flame-resistant and well-fitting. Have your kiddos try on their costumes several days beforehand and make sure hems and sleeves aren’t too long. Also, keep an eye out for U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission recalls of costumes or accessories.
Ensure your kids can both see and be seen. Instead of masks, which can impede children’s sight and make it hard to breathe, use face paint or makeup. Several days before the big event, test any makeup on the inside of your child’s arm to make sure they aren’t allergic. If a costume doesn’t have reflective trim, apply reflective tape to the front and back. Have your child carry or wear a glowstick (available at party stores) to ensure their visibility.
3. Scrutinize Their Halloween Haul
Your young ones will be all excited about the candy free-for-all, but again, safety means rules. Before they eat any of the goodies, a parent must inspect them. In all the excitement, kids may forget their allergies to some ingredients, so keep a list of potential allergens in popular candies. If you have to remove certain items, keep a stash of “good treats” and special toys to trade out.
Check the candy wrappers as well, making sure they are original and haven’t been tampered with. Discard any loose items, like home-bagged peanuts, fruit, or homemade goods. While those who make goodies for the neighborhood kids probably mean well, home baked treats can be adulterated or simply contain allergens. Little ones are also susceptible to choking on things like small candies, so keep those out of their Halloween haul. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration offers more suggestions on candy safety.
4. Go With Flame-Free Jack-o’-Lanterns
You don’t have to go through the effort of carving a big pumpkin into a jack-o’-lantern, especially if you have littles in the house. Start the Halloween tradition of a foam or ceramic jack-o’-lantern with a battery-powered tea light in a window or on a shelf. As your children get older, let them draw or paint on small pumpkins, and set those outside on Halloween night. Once they’re old enough to work with you, you can begin the tradition of carving a jack-o’-lantern with tools specifically designed for the purpose.
Avoid using real candles in your jack-o’-lantern; instead, use battery-operated tea lights. They last longer and won’t get blown out by the breeze of a Halloween night. More importantly, if the wind blows a trick-or-treater’s costume toward your jack-o’-lantern, it won’t flame up. After the holiday, leave your pumpkin out for the squirrels or other wildlife to enjoy. If it’s been painted, cut out those areas, as paint can be toxic to wildlife.
Combine Time-Tested Halloween Safety Basics With New Tech
A lot has changed since you went trick-or-treating as a kid. The world is a scarier place in many ways. But some of the basic safety practices your parents taught you remain the same.
Your kids should remember to cross at corners and crosswalks and only visit houses with the porch lights on. They should never go inside someone’s house or get into a car. Instruct them to carry a flashlight or use a clip-on light so they can see where they’re going.
Before your kids leave the house, check their costumes for a good fit. Make sure they’re with a group of kids you know and that you can locate them via the new technology that’s available. Plan to inspect candy and any other goodies they bring home. With this combination of old and new safety tactics, you can be sure your kids have a safe and fun Halloween.