As a parent, you know the evening poses many potential risks to your kids’ safety: dark streets and having them visit unknown people at unknown houses. If your kids are old enough to go out without an adult, there’s even greater concern. To ensure all kids have harmless thrills and chills while trick-or-treating, it’s important for them and parents to follow protective guidelines.
We've teamed up with a Police officer, who has given us these eight top tips for a safe Halloween:
1. Adult chaperones
Children 12 years-old and under must be accompanied by an adult while trick-or-treating. “I can’t stress this enough,” Paredes says. “When children are involved in an activity that involves going door-to-door in the evenings, parents need to be present.” If kids are a little older and don’t like their parents hanging around, he suggests the adults wear costumes too and hang back so as not cramp their children’s style.
2. Know your neighbourhood
Be familiar with the neighbourhood where you’ll be trick-or-treating. Make sure there are houses participating. You can tell by the Halloween decorations, the number of house lights that are on and if there are plenty of trick or treaters already on the streets. If you live in an urban area or city that doesn’t have many trick-or-treaters, if any at all, visit a suburb. “Family-oriented neighbours in the suburbs are best,” Paredes advises. He also suggests that parents look into taking their kids to structured, neighbourhood block parties. “The entire block gets together and cordons off the street, so kids can move around freely and safely.” Consider one for your own neighbourhood and get the community involved.
3. Dress visibly
Moving about in the dark in costume adds to the adventure factor. But it’s crucial that kids can be seen, especially by cars. Paredes advises parents to dress their kids in brightly coloured costumes. If they insist on dark fabrics, have them wear glow-in-the-dark necklaces or sticks. He also tells parents to carry a flashlight, so everyone can see where they’re going in low-light areas.
4. Travel in groups
For kids old enough to trick or treat without their parents—ages 12 and up—going with a group of friends is the best way to ensure safety. “Go with 3 or more good friends,” Paredes says. “Everyone should stick together the entire time and not get separated.”
5. Keep in Adult Contact
Kids trick-or-treating in groups need to carry a cell phone to keep parents informed of where they are and in case they need help. In advance, parents should determine a rendezvous point if a child gets separated or lost. “Always have some way to communicate with your kids and have consistent check-ins,” says Paredes. “Parents must be available if any trouble should arise.”
6. Be careful of what you eat
When trick-or-treating don’t eat or drink anything that is homemade, unwrapped or from an unsealed bottle or container. While not a common occurrence, there have been instances where kids have gotten sick from eating items from questionable sources. So be safe and don’t do it. For the extra cautious, some medical clinics offer to x-ray children’s candy bags to make sure they’re okay to eat.
7. Don’t go in someone’s house you don’t know
This practical tip applies to children in all situations and not just while trick-or-treating. “If you’re invited into the home of someone you don’t do know, refrain from doing so,” cautions Paredes. “There’s plenty of Halloween fun elsewhere with people you know.”
8. Don’t get into cars with strangers
This is another general safety tip that kids must follow. “The biggest mistake on Halloween is getting swept along with other trick or treaters,” says Paredes. He theorizes that wearing a costume seems to make it easier for kids to do things they normally wouldn’t do, like get in cars with strangers. “Even if your friends are doing it and it seems like it could be fun, it doesn’t mean you have to do it, too.”
Stick to these sensible tips while trick-or-treating. Your kids will have a safe and fun experience while you have peace of mind.