KKTV - Feature - Misc
Trick or Treat Safety and Planning Tips

Have each child carry or wear something lit, such as a flashlight, glow bracelet or necklace, or flashing attire for visibility. Light-up shoes are also practical, and ever-so-noticeable on a dark Halloween night.

Adults should plan out a route in advance and check it during the daylight for such obstacles as broken sidewalks (or no sidewalks), construction timber, or other obstacles that could trip up trick or trickers. Trick or treat in familiar neighborhoods or areas.

Require well-fitting shoes to be worn; preferably sneakers. While adorable in the store as a costume accessory, kids planning to go trick or treat should wear sturdy shoes and not the princess high-heel, too-large boots, or other types of shoes often shown with costumes. Save those types of shoes for costume parties and not when a child is going trick or treat. Their feet--and most likely you who may end up carrying either the shoes or the child--will be thankful.

Avoid costumes that drag on the ground. While cute initially, costumes that drag can trip up little feet, get caught on bushes, and create a tussle that sometimes results in the child wanting to remove the costume. Remember, kids who trick or treat want to be costumed and comfortable.

With the thought of comfort, pick costumes that are bathroom-friendly as well. On this same subject, parents should pre-plan a bathroom stop along the way (a friends' house will do and is a good time for a water break as well), or at a public facility if driving.

Be sure a child's mask allows full visibility and breathing. Spiderman masks, for example, sometimes only have small eye slits and nothing for the nose or mouth. Parents should try on masks for size and not hesitate to cut out larger openings for a trick or treater's comfort. If possible, find a mask that "breathes" and is easy to put on and off. The types of mask that easily can slide up on the head and then pulled down are best.

Trick or treaters should walk, not run, and should never cut across lawns or driveways. Obstacles could exist that aren't readily visible in the evening.

Only carry flexible props, such as knives, swords, ninja items, etc., that can't cause injury if a kid accidentally falls. No play prop should resemble the real item; and consider leaving play weapons at home and not part of trick or treat night. Remember, some individuals are offended by seeing small children carry these items; and trick or treating should be a fun and positive experience for everyone.

Only trick or treat at houses that are lit. Residents who do not wish to be bothered by trick or treaters often leave off their lights as a sign; respect their preference by only going to houses that are lit.

Be sure kids don't get over-heated and keep hydrated. Plan costumes according to weather; don't have your child dress in an adorable lions costume with heavy fur and hood if you live in Southern states where temperatures could still be in the 80s in the evening; by the same token, a fairy costume might be impractical for a cold northern evening. Be one of those creative parents who accessorizes jackets or thinks "cool comfort" for their kids.

Think "practical" over "cute" when picking a trick or treat goody bag or container. Some of seemingly-fun ones sold in stores are heavy - before any treats are added; others are too long and will drag the ground or have sharp edges that could scrape against tender skin. One of the best and simplest suggestions is have kids utilize a backpack to keep their hands free except for perhaps a flashlight.

Keep track of time and don't trick or treat after 9 p.m. (general recommendation). That allows ample time for children to trick or treat, and by then, the excitement of the evening and the candy/treats means little ghouls will be tired, anyhow.

Feed your kids a healthy meal prior to going trick or treat. Your children will be happier, and it will help reduce the temptation of kids wanting to devour candy from the first trick or treat stop.

Children of any age should be accompanied by a parent, if possible.Tweens or young teens who still trick or treat may resist this notion; if they trick or treat without an adult, set firm rules and require a child to carry a cell phone that can be used in the event of an emergency. Older kids should know where they can go, what etiquette they must follow, safety rules, carry a flashlight or a lit device, and have an absolute deadline for returning home.

Purchased costumes should be made of flame-retardant material. Costumes should also be reflective of the local weather. Some parents overdress their kids so that they sweat and are uncomfortable in costumes that are very heavy or don't "breathe." Others freeze in skimpy costumes or those made of thin material. Trick or treating is for children; comfort and safety should come before a parent's reluctance to have a child wear a coat over a costume.

Insist that your child goes to the bathroom BEFORE leaving the house. And, be considerate of your child's bathroom needs by not choosing a costume that is difficult to get on and off in time to avoid last-minute bathroom needs, if at all possible.

Never allow children to eat candy before it is inspected.Any opened candy should be thrown away, and unless you personally the families who make homemade goodies, it is recommended that you dispose of homemade treats. Immediately toss any items that are suspect in any way, and get rid of (either through donation or throwing away) any treats that your kid doesn't like. Some parents also put away some candy and save for later or set rules allowing kids to eat all they want for a designated period, then dispose of the rest.

Suggestions for residents/homeowners for making Halloween a fun night of trick or treat:

  • Pick up objects in the yard, sidewalk, or driveway that could create safety issues and be sure any tools are safely put away. Check hoses, flower pots, and extension cords.
  • Think "trick or treat safety" when decorating. Safety experts recommend using plug-in or battery-powered jack-o-lanterns instead of using a live candle. If you do opt for a live flame, make sure it is away from any possible exposure to trick or treaters' costumes or where they will be walking or standing.
  • Keep your house well-lit and inviting, or if going for a spooky home theme, make sure trick-or-treaters know your house has a welcome-mat extended.
  • Be sure your pets are secured and put away, or appropriate arrangements are made. Some pets become frightened; others may become territorial or even aggressive. You don't want your pets scaring trick or treaters any more than you want kids frightening your pets. Be especially careful with cats, who might dart out of open doors.
  • Carefully consider treats such as healthier food alternatives than candy. Non-sweet items like crackers, chips, raisins, or popcorn could receive thumbs up from parents. Some also give the "treat" to trick or treat by way of pencil, spider ring, glow in the dark decal, etc.

Sources:
About.com
Voxant Newsroom
Images:
www.sxc.hu

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