Today’s precautions did not exist when I first started trick or treating. The 1970’s a child died of poisoning from Halloween candy the result of a father refusing to pay child support and wanting to collect on a life insurance policy. The 1980’s presented another problem remember the terminology of latchkey kids a practice by working parents or single parents before childcare facilities existed a playground for pedophiles. The 1990’s animal abuse, pets disappearance or accidentally hit by cars at a higher rate. Urban sprawl trapping wildlife among new development created other issues. So, here are some random safety precautions some so absurd but seeing most unfortunately believing in these horrors over the past thirty years!
Costumes adults, children and pets
1) Costume Obscure vision- I have seen kids/pets fall by misjudging steps, hit poles and step out into the street nearly being hit cause they don’t see the car coming.
2.) Costume trip hazards – The worst case a tumble down concrete steps a chain reaction fall of multiple people down twelve concrete steps.
3.) Costume Choke hazards – Especially, around the neck a serious choking hazard for children and even on animals I’ve seen house holds with multiple dogs nearly kill each other getting playful. Be careful of capes I’ve seen an adult at a hotel were one got caught on an elevator.
4.) Costumes age appropriate – I can’t tell how many times I’ve seen little girls dressed in some costumes well beyond their years. I dislike the idea of a nine year old sporting something out of Fredrick’s of Hollywood very poor judgment! I state this to at least one parent every year at my door.
Out in the Neighborhood:
1.) There is safety in Numbers- one adult with children is not enough you need a backup. The older kids tend to rush off faster to the next house while the younger ones are a little slower and timid. You need a backup to ensure an older child doesn’t’ get out of sight in an abduction as attention focused on younger children. I was park next to the vehicle trying this when I got out my presence stopped it.
2.) Kids go to the door alone- a parent in the car uses a cell phone and children go to the house alone. They don’t have the mental nor emotional maturity to read people and may give information what school attend and encourage eat candy now. Caught a neighbor doing this it wasn’t sweet tarts his depression medication.
3.) On Halloween a Curfew – I turn off the lights at 9 p.m. kids need a curfew and I have one for work. Ring a door at 12 to 2 a.m. borders on child endangerment. Staying till the party ends dangerous fewer people are out and about unsafe for anyone criminals attack in groups of 2 – 4 they practice safety in numbers as well.
4.) Visible at night – there are glow sticks, plastic glow jewelry, flashlights and yes safety vests. Consider football season sports bars or adult parties and people driving home not fully drunk but impaired ability driving at night. If out yes, call report a street light out it prevents traffic accidents and deter crime in your neighborhood.
1.) Keep your pets at home- you feel the kids are safer with the dog out at dark. Not a good idea too much distraction that may make your pet run off, attack or chase. Even with a leash makes a good trip wire and worse. When retractable leashes first came out with loop handles, I witnessed one break the dog ran across the street both owner and dog dragged by a car half a block.
2.) Keep your pets indoors – kids run have distracting costumes encouraging to chase or run some kids get scared and throw candy and etc. This creates an aggression issue or a liability issue if someone gets bitten. Most run away hit with cars, a recent issue animal cruelty and mutilations: a neighbor getting even for their lawn and flowerbed and worst case actions of very disturbed individuals a stepping stone to people.
3.) Doorbell issue – the doorbell makes your animal ballistic camp the bowl on the porch keep an eye on it and fill in small patches. If this doesn’t work for you try leaving them at pet daycare overnight.
4.) Poisoning- Despite precautions and sometimes happens days later from candy dropped on the street on your regular walking route. So keep vigilant even a week after as it can be hidden under fallen leaves.
On the Road Safety
1.) How many behind the wheel – weekend extra caution with drunk drivers or individuals with slower reaction time. The season for football at sports bars, restaurants and parties not all Halloween related nor football. Best advice plan ahead a designated driver.
2.) I smell candy – sweets attract bears into suburbs, also possums, raccoons and skunks all carry the potential of rabies. Possums are often mistaken for large sewer rats in cities so they do reside outside rural areas. More cars hit skunks at this time and accidents cause by people swerving to miss them.
3.) Deer Season- driving among some interstate highways, suburbs and tree lined roads. Perfect pockets for deer active between dusk to dawn, during rutting season and will travel over 26 miles to find a mate. They are increasingly finding their way into the suburbs with human interactions.
4.) Opportunity for Wealth – criminals enjoy open disguises at Halloween easy for: home invasion, rape, mugging, car jacking, and armed robbery. Adults you can dress up forget the extreme makeup hiding your looks. Go thru a sobriety checkpoint and don’t picture your license one can be detained for a very long, time or worse prove you’re not the vampire that held up the convenience store. If I can’t identify an adults face at the door with children the door stays closed. A friend had an armed home invasion with other’s children standing next to him on her porch! Another reason children don’t go to the door alone or nor only one adult chaperone!
The Best Safe Options and Community Practices For Halloween
1.) Free Activities- shopping malls, community or cultural events have Halloween trick or treating and costume contests. Stores handing out candy and yes some malls offer prizes in various categories for best costume usually gift certificates at participating stores. The best shopping mall Halloween programs that encourage stay safe tips, endorse youth programs such as boys home and police offering advice on examples of what candy parents should discard. Malls have on duty security guards on patrol.
2.) Sex Offenders Ball – some areas police are diligent about collecting sex offenders and sequestering them safely during Halloween at undisclosed locations usually between 3p.m. to 3 a.m. making communities safer. Most usually show up voluntary, for self help programs (volunteer organization services) willing to provide a place to stay and counseling for these individuals to stay safely away for our benefit as well as theirs. Not available everywhere highly recommended for recent released offender as a deterrent for repeat offenses and violent attacks upon these registered offenders by hate crimes. Many released offenders have received no counseling during incarceration this is a last chance to end these crimes forever! . Volunteers must have training prefer background in psychiatry, sexual abuse counseling, substance abuse counselors, work placement training and law enforcement. It cost $200-$600 per person a year vs. $800-$2,000 per person a day to spend incarcerated. I recommend it cause the savings can be applied to crime prevention programs or social welfare programs preventing these crimes.
I don’t support sex offenses but note this: offenders registered by states with laws baring sex of an 18yr old with a minor even a year their junior despite consent prosecution is enacted in a unplanned pregnancy the registration is general without detail information and become victims of homicide and violence. Many move to states enabling them access and ability to support their (minor) spouse and child in a family environment. Once prosecuted they must register in any state they move to regardless if the nature of their offense not recognized in new residing state. Some registered offenders engaged in activity as young as 14yrs to younger siblings in an abusive household that encouraged these activities. Not all registered offenders are monsters in society. Most are victims themselves whether by poor choice, circumstance and social failure.
3.) RAINN APP – The Rape, Abuse, Incest National Network has partnered with BeenVerified.com for a new app that you can identify which houses to avoid as having a registered set offender available for $1.99 for the down load at iTunes app store and android markets. This service may not be available in all areas but do request for it. Please don’t let your guard down despite this and police actions there is always one noncompliant notifying their where about truthfully they can be at relatives or friends who are participating in handing out candy. Don’t forget to charge your cell phone before heading out.
4.) Stay at Church – some churches may not practice trick or treat but instead offer an autumn festival for kids with face painting, apple bobbing and bean bag tosses these are ideal for smaller children that maybe too scared to go trick or treating just yet. I do encourage the classic autumn festival it can be utilized as a means to raise funds for church, community welfare or important causes like breast cancer, domestic violence or youth such as big brothers & big sisters programs.
5.) House Decoration Tour – just like there is a tacky Christmas lights tour some folks live to decorate for Halloween. These houses are safe due to the fact they are well lighted and attract large crowds. Only concern and here is a hint to law enforcement and fire departments around the country. They should be inspected as child safe stops verifying the location is not housing a sex offender and the outdoor lighting is fire safe with children running around. If a community sets up tours like this provides an area police can contain and manage for your safety and yes curfews these activities for your neighbors benefit as well. A well-operated program can increase business to a community and increase revenue to public services and safety. With an operation like this lowering homeowners fire insurance to your benefit.
6.) Neighborhood watch -some sponsor block parties a great concept especially working with police and county or city planners blocking off certain areas for pedestrian traffic, This is more ideal at schools or community centers as not to disrupt traffic and provide sheltered areas incase of rain. The best operations generate much needed resources to community safety and crime prevention programs.
7.) Educational Events – some local libraries, bookstores and children’s museums. Some provide readings and other activities. This is the best way to introduce children into Halloween that are usually frightened and a great opportunity to encourage safety education.
8.) Candy Checks – some medical facilities have x-rays screenings for metal objects but still check anyway cause it can’t pick up things like broken glass efficiently. The best events offer reduced cost flu shots and information of childhood inoculation updates for pre-school age children.
9.) Stuck at home – Have fun handing out candy but be safe. Take care with lights and trip hazards use battery-operated lighting when possible instead of electrical cords. I highly recommend solar lights for walk ways. What ever your reason for staying home, make your own traditions watch or read Halloween classics, make popcorn balls, roast pumpkins seeds, decorate cupcakes or brownies, and even games.
Yes, Halloween horrors are real but taking precautions and an active role one can make these just ghost stories. I’m not saying these things to scare you nor feel confidence that decent people are around to stop some one harming your family. I feel fortunate cause that attempted child abduction I could have been run over by a car and that neighbor off meds I could have been violently attacked. One careless action could have a ball roll into yet another tragedy. Every year the same precautions are announced on your local news but they continue so here is an idea. Let’s put dollar signs at not engaging in safe practices cost to us and the community: medical injury cost, psychiatric care costs, life disability care costs, auto insurance costs, home insurance costs, liability lawsuits costs, lost income from injured or death of family bread winner, lost wages, cost of police investigation, the cost of lost business to a community due to crime, the cost to put down your pet or vet bills, court cost, incarceration costs and funeral costs. All these also raise the overall cost of living in your community. When you look out for yourself you close opportunity for a crime saving your family, others as well as your community from harm socially and economically. An ounce of prevention is worth more that a pound for a cure! I wish you all the safest Happy Halloween!