Halloween is a night for young ghosts and goblins to wander through their neighborhoods in search of candy and treats. Traditionally, the evening of October 31 has been an occasion of fun and adventure for children. Although there is need for increased vigilance in these days of terrorism threats, many homeless persons, and chronic unemployment, the children can still participate in the chills and thrills of Halloween, with parental supervision and common-sense safeguards in place.
Send the children out after a good meal, so that they won’t be tempted to eat treats that haven’t been inspected by an adult. A parent should always accompany younger children on their rounds. Older children can travel in groups but parents should be aware of, and approve, the itinerary before they leave, and set a time when they are to return. The children should be instructed to stay together. They should not approach any house which is in darkness, strange cars, vans or dogs. They must not enter any house, even if invited to do so, but remain on the doorstep or porch.
Costumes should be flame-retardant, short enough to prevent the child tripping, and roomy enough to fit over a jacket or coat if the weather is cool. They should have reflective tape or material to warn oncoming traffic of a child’s presence. Masks should have eye openings large enough to ensure a full range of vision, and nose and mouth openings big enough to breathe through comfortably. Shoes should be sturdy and fit properly. It’s easy to trip in the dark when you’re wearing flip-flops or high heels. Knives, swords and other props should be flexible, so that if a child trips and falls on them, no injuries will result.
Every child should have a flashlight with new batteries. Cell phones add an extra measure of safety; help can be summoned if the need arises. A paper bag or container, light-weight and not long enough to trip over, will hold the treats. Advise the children that nothing should be consumed until the parents have a chance to examine it first.
Remind the trick-or-treaters of the safety rules: look both ways before crossing a street, walk, don’t run when you cross, and only cross at corners. Stay on the sidewalks and don’t cut across lawns, driveways, fields or back alleys. Be sure the child knows his name and phone number in case he gets separated from the group. Reinforce the knowledge that the 9-1-1 number is available for emergencies.
Remind the children that damaging some one’s property or hurting animals is never acceptable. A visit from police or animal protection authorities could ruin a wonderful evening.
Most parents and grandparents have happy memories of past Halloweens, when they went trick-or-treating on the dark streets of their home towns. They want to provide the children of this generation with similar experiences, and this can be done with a little extra care and caution. Despite increased risk factors, originating from at home and abroad, today’s young ghosts and goblins can still enjoy a happy and memorable Halloween evening.