If you live in a weird, weird city like ours, you might be trick-or-treating sometime this week. Most likely, however, you’ll be taking your ghosts and goblins out on Sunday afternoon or evening. Whenever you go — and hopefully it’s on Halloween, for pity’s sake — you should be taking safety into account.
Here are some ideas to keep in mind.
- Trick-or-treat in a group that contains a few adults. Even if your children are older, explain that their safety is more important than their social status. Offer to follow behind a little ways with a few adult friends. For younger children, the more parents the better. Keep an eye on each others’ children and offer to chase down the rambuncious three year old for a very pregnant friend. Safety in numbers!
- Masks are funny, but not good for walking. Avoid masks that cover the whole face. Even if they have proper eye holes and nose/mouth ventilation, it can still make it difficult for your child to see where he’s walking (think of all the downed leaves and sticks right now) and possibly impede his peipheral vision. If you already purchased your child’s mask, as him to carry it in his hand until he gets up to the door, putting it on to say, “Trick-or-treat!” Emergency room visits on Halloween are no fun.
- Tie up loose ends. Yes, your little princess is adorable in her long dress. And, yes, your little mummy looks frightfully adorable wrapped in ripped up sheets. But if the dress is too long, she can trip. And if someone steps on a loose piece of sheet, your mummy could go flying. Ditto all of this for shoe laces.
- Only trick-or-treat in well-lit areas. Kudos to the areas which have switched to day-time trick-or-treating. For those that push the sunset hour or fall after dark, make sure you are only gallavanting in areas that are well-lit. If you are going after dark, make sure to use reflective tape on the back of your child’s costume. No, I don’t care that it doesn’t match her princess dress color palette. You can also get a blinking light. Carry flashlights. See also the safety in numbers point if you’re traipsing around after dark.
- Check your child’s candy and make a no-eating-while-trick-or-treating rule. I know that everyone in your neighborhood is on the up and up and would never poison your child. However, it’s still better to check your child’s candy. More over, the no-eating-while-trick-or-treating rule comes in handy as it prevents choking on a piece of said candy and needing to find someone who knows the Heimlich maneuver. Also, checking your kids’ candy lets you spot the good stuff first. What?
- Put down the cell phone. No, really. Sure, you’re not driving. But there are bound to be 39859 kids walking around in costume. And lots of adults. And chances are you don’t know all of them. Keep an eye and a mind on your child while you’re out and about this Halloween. More over, staying off the cell phone will let you create memories that you actually remember.
- Have a meeting point if you get separated. Families can get separated even when parents are paying close attention. It happens. Create a meeting point like “the old lady’s house on the corner” if should happen. Make sure your kids know their address AND YOUR FIRST AND LAST NAME. No, really. Mommy and Daddy don’t quite cut in when locating parents.
There are other things to remember as well. You know, things like don’t play with matches and what not. But those should go without saying.
One last tip that is less about safety and more about fun: Try to find your local firefighters. Our firefighters go out on the truck and hand out candy in different neighborhoods. Another local department parks on Main Street, handing out candy to those who pass by. Truth? They love your kids’ costumes. They do. Make their evening. Make your kids’ evening with some fire truck love, too. It’s a win for all!
And, by the way, if anyone has any advice as to how to convince our city that trick-or-treating should happen on Halloween, I’d be grateful. That said, Western PA is also known for its weird trick-or-treating nights, so I should be used to it. But dang it! Halloween is for trick-or-treating. Not a random late-October Thursday night! Humph.