Halloween has always been a fun and exciting holiday for children everywhere! It is estimated that almost 94 percent of children between the ages of four and twelve will participate in some type of Halloween activities in a normal year. Picking out the perfect costume, carving pumpkins, and trick or treating for candy makes Halloween one of the most popular holidays besides Christmas.
Even though we are currently in the midst of a pandemic, some parents are still going to set up neighborhood trick or treating events. Parents should ensure that strict health and safety guidelines are followed to keep kids safe. Besides the obvious dangers, such as navigating this virus safely, pedestrian accidents and potential poisonous treats, many child predators use this time of year to try and entice unsuspecting children into their homes. By teaching children a few safety tips, parents can ensure that their children have a fun and safe Halloween! Here is a suggested safety checklist to follow in addition to additional measures recommended by your local and state officials.
1. NEVER allow young children to go out alone! Even if they want to go with a group of their friends, young children under the age of 12 should ALWAYS be accompanied by an adult. Older children should go as a group and stay together at ALL times!
2. Choose light or brightly colored flame retardant costumes so the child can be seen by drivers. Add reflective tape and have them carry a glow stick or flashlight to increase visibility. Choose face paint instead of masks so that the child’s vision won’t be obstructed.
3. Only trick or treat in familiar neighborhoods with well-lit streets. Avoid dark streets and secluded homes.
4. ALWAYS walk a young child to the door to receive their goodies and NEVER allow a child to enter someone’s home for any reason.
5. Children should be taught to walk on the sidewalks and use crosswalks. Children under 12 should not cross the street without an adult.
6. If your child is going as part of a group, make sure they know their home phone number and address in case they become separated from the group. Make sure someone in the group has a cell phone. Also teach them how and when to call 911.
7. Teach your child not to approach anyone in a vehicle who tries to call out to them. Tell them to back away from the car and quickly go towards the nearest adult with children.
8. Tell them to scream loudly “Call the Police! Someone please help me!” if someone tries to grab them away from their group. Have someone in the group carry a loud whistle to blow, if they are attacked, and tell all the kids to yell for help and fight back if someone is trying to abduct one of them.
9. *Best recommendation - Instead of going house to house on unfamiliar streets, consider organizing a block party with your neighbors where the kids could stay in your immediate area and have fun.
10. Check all of your child’s treats for signs of tampering before allowing them to eat any of the goodies. If it is unwrapped, faded, smells funny or just doesn’t look right – THROW IT AWAY!
Child safety is important every day of the year and parents should be vigilant at all times. But on a night like Halloween, parents really need to be aware of their surroundings and know that some child predators have planned for months on how they will take advantage of a child. Many police agencies visit known sex offenders prior to Halloween night to remind them not to decorate or give out candy. Sadly, not all sex offenders are properly registered and some will slip through the cracks waiting to strike again.