With Halloween approaching, parents are mindful of how to keep their kids safe on the most ghoulish of nights.
As child safety experts, we’re sure a blog about safety on Halloween isn’t surprising, but we promise this won’t be a long boring blog… Just a short one to give you a few tips to make it a safe and fun evening for all.
1. Before you leave your house, check out if the area you live in has a sex offender data base. This is an obvious one, but just don’t go knocking on a registered offender’s door for candy. If your child is allowed to go out alone or with friends, then make sure they know and understand what an offender is and that they must stay away from that house (even if they have the best decorations of all the houses and are giving out the “best” candy).
2. Use the Buddy System. It seems like common sense, but many kids are telling us they are walking around by themselves. If your child does not have a group, you need to go with them. Many kids say their moms claim they “have” to stay home to give out candy. That’s not a good excuse. Set a time you will walk around with your child, and then come home and give out candy. A win-win to keeping your child safe. While you’re out, remember that the international signal for “no candy” is a porch light turned off.
4. Only go to people’s homes you know. We’ve had children tell us they are allowed to go to every house in their neighborhood. Of course, not all sex offenders register, but it’s also important to remember stranger danger. The best thing to do for your family is to know your neighbors before it comes time to trick or treat.
5. Make sure your kids know to never ever go into anyone’s house. There are some pretty frightening stories about kids knocking on the door and being told to come in and get candy. Even if our children may not understand the danger of going into a house, you do. So before your child goes trick or treating, sit down and have a discussion about the rules.
6. Always check your kids’ candy before they are allowed to eat it. A good rule is that no candy can be eaten before they get home and you can sit down and sort through it.
7. Avoid unfamiliar dogs. Even though puppies are cute, they still have teeth. As a rule, your child should never pet a dog without your permission, the owner’s permission, and the dog’s permission. If the dog doesn’t seem interested, teach your child not to push boundaries. That’s how people get bitten.
8. If your children are going out with their friends and not with a grown-up, make sure you set up designated times for them to “check in” with you. Make sure they each have a fully charged cell phone with the ringer volume turned all the way up for them to hear.
9. Walk on the sidewalk if there is one. In a neighborhood with no sidewalk, always walk the opposite direction of traffic so you can see a car coming. Otherwise, you might drive the trick or treat trail. If they are walking, especially on the street and wearing dark costumes, a flash light is a must. Adhesive reflectors attached to the costume are good too, but even more fun for the kids are glow stick necklaces and bracelets.
10. Tell your kids not to talk to anyone driving by in a car. Remind them that adults should not be asking kids for help; they should be asking other adults. If approached, they need to report this to a trusted grownup immediately.
Halloween can be an amazing family holiday. Our neighbors transform their garage into a haunted house and all the kids look forward to the scare and fun. Lots of families walk around in large groups, adults socializing as well as the children.
Unfortunately, as child safety experts, we also see the not-so-safe side of Halloween. Kids as young as 6 and 7 are walking around without grownups, knocking on strangers doors for candy. This is a predator’s dream.
For most families, this is the ultimate fun. They celebrate together as a family, and everyone has a safe and wonderful time. All we ask is that you read this blog and consider some of the safety issues that may arise. Sit down with your children and discuss a plan of action for their safety at Halloween.
For more safety tips visit our website www.kidsafefoundation.org