Friday, October 12, 2012

Happy (and Safe) Halloween

When it comes to their child's safety, parents lay the ground rules early: No wandering the neighborhood unsupervised; no trespassing on to other peoples property; and absolutely, positively NO taking candy from strangers. But on one special night, there's always something spooky in the air. Could it be that witches and warlocks are lurking in the bushes, and ghosts are rising from their graves? Or is it that kids across the country will be out after dark, knocking on strangers' doors, and cramming candy by the pillowcase full?

As scary as it may sound, keep in mind that Halloween heebie jeebies have always given parents a cause to pause. And because Halloween may present many opportunities for kids to use poor judgement, it also gives parents to chance to teach important lessons about responsibility and safety. What exactly can you do to keep kids safe without scaring them silly, you ask? The answer to that is simple -- just use the same rules that you talk about the rest of the year!

I know, I know...You're thinking, "You can't have both safety AND Halloween!" But contrary to popular belief, the two aren't at all mutually exclusive. Here are some tips to stay safe on Halloween while having fun doing it!

  • Small children should ALWAYS have an adult with them while trick-or-treating. This is true whether it is daytime or dark. But, the LAST thing kids want to be haunted by is a boring (or down right bored) adult escort. The presence of said adult does not, however, need to get in the way of fun. Just look at it as an opportunity for the adult to recapture some of that old youthful Halloween glee.
  • More mature children can go trick-or-treating without adult supervision (in a group of course) as long as they stick to a familiar, trusted route that is not completely abandoned. For older children, a curfew on Halloween shouldn't be a matter of debate. You should expect your kid(s) to be back by a specific agreed upon time, no if's, and's, or "but mooooommm"s!
  • If your neighborhood has few or no trick-or-treaters, or is just generally unsafe, you can drive a carload of kids to other neighborhoods that are safer. Also, there are Halloween carnivals and haunted houses in just about every community. Local newspapers and radio stations tend to have information about them leading up to Halloween. These events provide safe activites in a safe enviornment where kids can hang out with friends and make new ones, too!
  • Make sure your kids can see AND breath through their masks. If you too will be wearing a costume, whatever costume you wear, make sure you can keep up with the children! (It wouldn't hurt to bring a flashlight along either.)
  • As a general rule, you shouldn't let your children eat their candy before you've had a chance to see that it hasn't been tampered with. There is nothing wrong with telling children who will be unescorted that they cannot eat their candy until they get home (try giving them candy before they leave home -- it may help temptation).
  • Have your child carry glow sticks so that cars can see something (but it is best to caution them to stay out of the street!)
With all this being said, you just want to remind your children (and yourself) that the laws (state, federal, and the ones that you just now made up in your head) don't take a break during Halloween. So, have a safe and spooky Halloween!

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