Halloween is one of my favorite times of the year in our neighborhood. Almost every household participates, with handing out candy to eager trick-or-treaters, providing thrilling “Haunted Houses,” and children trick-or-treating, collecting a variety of candy to eat (and share with their parents).
Even though we live in a fairly safe, suburban neighborhood, I like to take the opportunity to review with my own children what it means to be safe while trick-or-treating on Halloween.
Choose a Costume Wisely
Safe trick-or-treating begins with your child’s costume. Choose a costume that fits well and doesn’t drag on the ground. If you live in an area where Halloween night will be cold, plan for extra layers underneath it – this avoids fighting with your kids about wearing a coat.
Don’t forget to have your kids wear sturdy shoes, since those that accompany costumes are impractical and not safe to wear on a dark night of trick-or-treating. Make sure masks have adequate holes for seeing, hearing and breathing – or opt for no mask at all, choosing non-toxic face paint or make up. And especially don’t forget to make sure the costume is bathroom friendly!
The container your child carries to collect candy and other loot is also an important choice. Choose a practical container with a sturdy handle – some are too small or flimsy and won’t last the night, while others are too heavy even without candy. Bring a backpack or extra bag to dump candy in, just in case.
Familiar Places and Faces
Since it will be dark while your group is trick-or-treating, it’s important to stay in a familiar area with people you and your kids know. Your group will already know the main roads and any obstacles to stay away from that may cause injury. You’ll also be able to plan a route that everyone can stick with while you’re out having fun.
Set Ground Rules
Before setting out, make sure your kids know the ground rules for the evening. These rules could include:
- Use walking feet when going from house to house
- Walk along the street and not on neighbors’ lawns
- Move to the side of the street when a car is coming
- Stay with parents or guardians
- Say “thank you” when receiving candy
- Look both ways when crossing the street
- Ask permission before eating candy
Reviewing the ground rules before leaving the house will reinforce the expectations you have of your kids.
Allowing for adequate lighting during trick-or-treating is important. The kids in our neighborhood who trick-or-treat are accompanied by plenty of adults who already carry flashlights but allow kids to carry flashlights if they’d like. For those who don’t want to carry them, provide glo-sticks and bracelets or necklaces that glow in the dark. Place a couple of pieces of reflective tape on the back of your child’s costume, or provide a blinking LED light so they can be seen.
Allow for Down Time
Halloween is an exciting night, and kids will need time to relax from all of the fun and the sugar. After checking the candy and helping yourself to your favorites, take some time to read stories or watch a short video or TV show with your kids, then have them get ready for bed. Resign yourself to the fact that no matter how early you start, your kids will be up late.
Trick-or-treating is an enjoyable annual tradition. Take this opportunity to review with your kids what it means to be safe during this fun-filled night.