Trick or Treat: Practicing Halloween Safety
The leaves are falling, the pumpkin spice lattes are brewing, and the air is getting cooler by the minute (in some places anyway). One of the most fun holidays of the year is right around the corner: Halloween.
For kiddos, it’s the time to flex their make-believe skills by assuming the likeness of their favorite characters, whether cute or spooky, fantastical or realistic. For parents, though, it may cause some to fret about treat-or-treat safety—trick-or-treat safety COVID edition, in particular.
Don’t worry, parents. It’s possible to be conscious of Halloween safety and have a blast with your kids pounding the pavement in hunt of some delicious candy loot. Here’s our guide to safe trick-or-treating tips for a spooky Halloween and a yummy trick-or-treating bounty.
Trick-or-treating safety tip 1: Take it slow
And by that we mean you may end up being the running police. Trick-or-treaters, especially the young ones, may struggle to contain their excitement and want to take off down the sidewalk. This is unsafe for a couple of reasons: You should try to keep your kids in sight at all times to make sure they’re safe and not lost, especially if it’s dark. You also want to prevent falls and injuries thanks to tripping over unforeseen cracks, uneven sidewalks, and other obstructions.
Trick-or-treating safety tip 2: Accept homemade treats with caution
It’s always a good practice to make sure nothing is amiss with the factory-made candy your children will receive while trick-or-treating, but one of the most important Halloween safety tips is to give homemade treats the same scrutiny. While you can politely accept homemade goods if you’d like, you may choose to discard them once you get home unless the homeowners are known and trusted. It’s not to say that those plastic-wrapped brownies are malicious, but there are no permits and regulations for serving baked items out of your kitchen to the public. So be cautious if you don’t know the conditions in which the goods were prepared.
Trick-or-treating safety tip 3: Brighten it up
Many communities have moved their trick-or-treating to before the last light, but if you are going to be out after dark, the key to safety at Halloween is making sure your group is easily spotted. You can encourage your kids to wear a brightly-colored costume, but if they insist on going as Dracula, you can opt to hand out glow sticks, glow bracelets/jewelry, and flashlights instead. Reflective vests or tape help boost visibility too.
Trick-or-treating safety tip 4: Be mindful of open flames
The fabric in costumes may be flammable, so you may want to check the fabric’s tags before setting out. There’s a good chance your kids will encounter jack-o-lanterns, candles, bonfires, or other types of open flames while going door to door. Remind your kids to watch where they are going and leave plenty of space in between them and these hazards.
Trick-or-treating safety tip 5: Stick to the outdoors
If you’ve got trick-or-treat COVID (or general germ/illness exposure) safety in mind, a good practice is to keep your group outdoors. When visiting the homes of friends or known neighbors, decline going inside to socialize. Avoid indoor trick-or-treating events that take place in community centers, school gymnasiums, churches, etc., and try to put some berth between your trick-or-treaters and large crowds or groups.
Trick-or-treating safety tip 6: Map your route ahead of time and limit houses
Knowing the exact route you’ll take and exactly how many houses you’ll visit benefits both COVID safety during Halloween and safe trick-or-treating overall. Mapping your route helps ensure your children don’t wander into unknown and potentially unsafe areas, where they aren’t familiar with the roads, traffic, and people. Additionally, if you limit the number of houses visited, you may limit your potential germ exposure too. It might bum your kids out to have their trick-or-treating romp cut shorter than they’d like, but you could keep the party going with a Halloween gift basket waiting at home.
Trick-or-treating safety tip 7: Maintain good hand hygiene
While trick-or-treating, your kids’ hands will go places that a lot of other hands have been— rifling through candy buckets, grasping door handles, etc. You won’t have a sink to run to after every touch while on your Halloween excursion, but you can keep a travel-sized bottle of hand sanitizer to take care of those frightful germs. If you’re lucky, you might even be able to convince your kids that some light winter gloves go with their costume—which will help with germs and the nippy October air.
Trick-or-treating safety tip 8: Follow traffic laws
You should never assume that cars are going to yield to pedestrians, or even pay attention to them, just because it is Halloween and kids are out trick-or-treating. Make sure that your kids stand clear of the curb and make eye contact with a driver to ensure they are going to stop before approaching the street. Only cross at designated crosswalks. Discourage jaywalking even in the most familiar and quiet residential streets.
Trick-or-treating safety tip 9: Make sure costumes don’t limit mobility or vision
We know that kids want to wear all the coolest masks and capes, but be sure to ask them before heading out for the evening if they are having any trouble seeing out of their mask. Take note of whether their costume’s cape, pants, or skirt brushes the ground or is long enough to get tangled up under their feet. Especially at nightfall, you’ll want your kids to have no problem safely ambulating in their Halloween getups.
Trick-or-treating safety tip 10: Consider alternatives for utmost COVID caution
If avoiding COVID or germ exposure at all costs remains a priority for you, consider exploring alternatives to traditional in-person trick-or-treating. This could look like decking out the inside of your own home with Halloween decorations, having a spooky (age-appropriate, of course) movie night with candy, costumes, and Halloween ambiance, writing a Halloween family play, reading scary stories, hosting a virtual costume party, having a backyard campout, or cooking creepy-crawly treats. Explain to your kids why trick-or-treating isn’t an option this year, and give them a voice in choosing what the evening holds instead.
At what ages is trick-or-treating appropriate?
That’s easy! Everyone can go trick-or-treating, from one-year-olds to 101-year-olds. While some ages may want to stay in when the weather’s too cold, infants can be bundled up in adorable bumblebee or pumpkin get-ups, and parents and grandparents can join in even with a simple cat-ears headband. Young children should always be accompanied while out on candy hunt, and the age at which older kids can venture out on their own is completely up to the parent and their child’s level of maturity—but a general consensus is that most kids are responsible and aware enough to do so by around 13 years old.
Trick or Treat!
We wish you a safe, fun, creative, and candy-filled Halloween!
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