In its various forms over the centuries, trick or treating has been a Halloween tradition. For the past century in the U.S. and Canada, the schedule has become somewhat of a Halloween night standard.
Except for some creative teenagers and playful grown-ups, most trick or treaters are costumed kids of ages three through twelve. For those who venture out in urban settings, there’s the advantage of many close-together houses to visit, along with the convenience parents have to keep their kids always in sight.
With close monitoring, there are tips that parents can consider to make the night’s adventures both fun and safe for their children.
1. Safe costumes: Be sure your kids wear fireproof costumes when trick or treating. They may venture on porches, hallways and yards where residents may have placed Halloween displays that contain fires. Typical are carved out pumpkins with lighted candles inside. As your kids go to front doors along with others, there may be crowd movement that can get some kids too near the fires.
Make certain the costumes, wigs and masks don’t block vision. Crossing streets in busy urban areas at night can be hazardous for kids who can’t see normally. Additionally, if masks or costumes restrict breathing, keep them off until the moments of actual front-door trick or treating, then take them off while walking down the street.
2. Be early birds: By the end of October, in most parts of North America, it’s dark by six o’clock. If your children are under age five, take them out as early as 5:30 for just an hour of trick or treating. In a city area, that means they can visit about ten homes or apartments. That’s usually about all they can do before exhaustion sets in.
3. It’s best to limit your younger kids’ visits to homes and apartments where you know the people personally. However, older kids will venture longer and cover more ground. If you can’t personally be with those kids then, be sure they follow the buddy system. That means every kid who walks the streets or visits houses on Halloween night must be accompanied at all times by at least one other kid.
4. Each parent with little kids, as well as all groups of older kids should carry at least one cell phone. If there are any accidents, adult misbehavior or other dangers, be prepared to call 911 immediately.
5. Instruct kids of all ages who are out trick or treating to put all gifts of edibles into bags and take them home for close parental inspection. No matter how tempted or encouraged, the kids should never eat nor drink anything until then. Unfortunately, there have been incidents of kids being injured or made sick deliberately by unscrupulous people.
For kids to go Halloween trick or treating in an urban setting, there are dangers, including heavy traffic. However, with parental guidance, they can have an enjoyable evening of safe fun.