Houston Halloween: Trick or Treat Safety Tips
by Rania Mankarious
Happy Halloween! Kids are excited to go out, wear their costumes, trick-or-treat and come back and explore all the treasures they’ve collected during the night. Many children from toddlers to tweens and teens look forward to this time of carefree fun all year long. But for us parents, we have to keep in mind safety while we allow them to knock on doors and walk along streets in the dark.
The key to navigating through this time is to go over these safety tips – at length – with your kids.
1 Go with a group and stay together.
2 Never go into someone’s home.
3 Never get into someone’s car.
4 Do not approach homes that are dark.
5 Have a plan in place in case of emergency. For younger children who would not know their way home if they get separated, create an information card. Pin a card with your child’s name, your name, address and phone number inside a pocket.
6 Fasten reflective tape to costumes and bags or use glow sticks to help drivers see you. The most dangerous aspect of trick-or-treating is traffic – car accidents involving pedestrians. Kids must be clearly visible to drivers.
7 Wear well-fitting masks, costumes, and shoes to avoid blocked vision, trips, and falls.
8 Never walk near lit candles or luminaries. Be sure to wear flame-resistant costumes.
9 Do not get involved in peer pranks or fights.
10 Inspect all treats. Eat only factory-wrapped and sealed candies. Avoid homemade goodies. For younger children, look out for choking hazards like gum and nuts.
SAFETY PLAN FOR GROUPS WITHOUT PARENTS
1 Clarify Exact Trick-or-Treat Route or Area & Time Limit
Parents can designate a certain few blocks for trick-or-treating and make it known that while they will not actually be shadowing their child, they will be circulating through the designated area. Create a route that is well lit and will be heavily traveled. At least one person should have a flashlight with fresh batteries. Where concerns are greater, parents should shadow their child – walk with other parents a few steps behind. While our children may resent the lack of independence, there is no greater importance than keeping them safe. Also, specify the exact time they are expected home.
2 Emergency Contact & 911
If your child is old enough to go trick-or-treating alone, they should have a phone with them. There should be a designated emergency contact to call in the event your child senses danger or gets separated from the group. This is not a time when our children should be dialing numerous people looking for help! Make sure your child knows how to dial 9-1-1 and in what scenarios this number should be used.
On the flip side of the smart phone, remind everyone not to walk while texting so they can be aware of their surroundings, especially moving vehicles.
3 Emergency Waiting Points & Whistle
Have a good emergency plan in place in case your child gets separated from the group. Together with your children, map out their route and create “emergency waiting points.” Make sure you are both familiar with the path and that these emergency points are easy for your child to find. For example, emergency waiting point #1 could be the corner of Baker Street and Milbury Street. These sites should be familiar to your child and make him or her feel less frightened if separated. Give your child a whistle. Let’s not forget that an old-fashioned whistle is still a great way to draw attention, in case of an emergency that involves another stranger. This will allow others to come to the aid of your child until you are able to get there.
If you go through these safety tips with your children and find that they laugh, roll their eyes or generally don’t appreciate the seriousness of your concerns, your child simply may not be mature enough to go without your supervision.
Noteworthy for parents – crimes against children do not peak on Halloween and most kids have a fun, sugar-filled time. Do your due diligence though and consider your neighborhood and the age of your child in every decision. As always, trust your instincts and make decisions based upon what’s best for you, your child and your family, regardless of everything else!