As fall approaches and stores begin to stock their shelves with candy, trinkets and the familiar black and orange Jack-o-lanterns, we need to take time to ensure that the most important element of this Halloween season is taken care of, our children. Halloween is one of the most exciting times of the year for children, but sometimes the most hectic for parents. Nearly 94 percent of children between the ages of four and twelve participate in Halloween activities each year. The Gretna Police Department would like to remind parents to take a moment to consider basic safety precautions that will make Halloween a safer night of fun.
Parents of trick-or-treating children can get caught up in the fun and magic that Halloween presents as well. Sometimes this excitement can make parents forget some simple safety guidelines that could help keep our children safe and out of harm’s way. Having a fun and safe Halloween with your kids will make the experience memorable and worthwhile.
Here are 12 common-sense tips that can help adults keep their kids safe during their Halloween activities:
- Know the route your kids will be taking if you aren’t going with them. Let them know that they are to check in with you every hour, by phone or by stopping back at home. Make sure that they know not to deviate from the planned route so that you always know where they will be.
- Trick or treating isn’t what it used to be. In most cities it’s not safe to let kids walk the streets by themselves. Your best bet is to make sure that an adult is going with them. If you can’t take them yourself, see if another parent or two can.
- Help your young child pick out or make a costume that will be safe. Make sure that it’s fire proof or treated with fire retardant. If they are wearing a mask of any kind, make sure that the eye holes are large enough for good peripheral vision.
- Know what other activities a child may be attending, such as parties, school or mall functions. If they are going to be at a friend’s home, get the phone number and make sure that you’ve met the parents.
- Make sure you set a time that your kids should be home by. Make sure they know how important it is for them to be home on time or to call immediately if something happens and they are going to be delayed.
- Kids will be kids. Explain to kids of all ages the difference between tricks and vandalism. Throwing eggs at a house may seem funny but they need to know the other side of the coin as well, that clean up and damages can ruin Halloween for everyone. If they are caught vandalizing, make them clean up the mess they’ve made.
- Some sick people find Halloween to be an opportunity to hurt cats. Explain to your kids that animal cruelty of any kind is not acceptable. Kids may already know this, but stress the point that it’s not acceptable behavior. Make sure that they know that harming animals is not only morally wrong but punishable by law and will not be tolerated.
- Serve your kids a filling meal before trick or treating and they won’t be as tempted to eat any candy before they bring it home for you to check. Check your local grocery store or craft store for Halloween cookbooks full of tasty treats on a horror theme for both kids and adults.
- Make sure that if your child is carrying a prop, such as a scythe, butcher knife or a pitchfork, that the tips are smooth and flexible enough to not cause injury if fallen on. Make sure that costumes won’t get in the way when they are walking, which could cause them to trip.
- Teach your kids about not getting into stranger’s cars or talking to strangers, no matter what the person says to them. Explain to them as simply as you can that some adults are bad and want to hurt children, that they should never go into a house that they don’t know, get into a car or go anywhere with a stranger. Also, tell them what to do should this happen, to scream as loud as they can to draw attention and to run away as fast as they can to someplace safe.
- Be sure to show your children how to cross a street properly. They should always look both ways before crossing the street and should only cross at corners or crosswalks. Make sure that if you have more than one child, they know to take the hand of the younger child when they cross a street.
- As bad as it sounds, this is just a fact of life now. Get on the internet and check your local state website for sex offenders. Almost every state has one; just do a search for your state sex offender site. Look up your zip code and it should have a list of registered offenders in your area that includes street addresses. Make sure that your kids stay away from these houses!
Here are just a few tips for the children that will make their Halloween experience a safe and memorable one:
- Never, ever go into a stranger’s house or even ring their door for treats unless your parents are with you and say that it’s okay. There are some people in life that aren’t very nice to kids and you have to be careful. Always make sure that your mom or dad is within sight when you go out trick-or-treating.
- Be careful when you cross a street. Make sure to look in both directions and make sure that there are no cars coming. If you have a little brother or sister with you, take their hand and help them get across the street, too. If the street has a stop light, wait until the cross walk light tells you that it’s okay to cross now, but still check before you cross, look both ways.
- If you are an older kid or young teen, and going out with friends, make sure that your parents know where you are going and who you are going with. This may seem like a pain but they are your parents and they love you. They just want you to be safe.
- If you can drive and are taking a bunch of friends to a party, make sure that you have enough gas to get there. You don’t want to run out on a dark street, all alone, like a bad horror movie!
- Vandalism is never cool! Throwing eggs at cars and houses is not cool. Someone has to clean it up and it could be you, if you get caught. You can also be arrested and punished as a juvenile. So, don’t think that it’s fun only if you can get away with it. It’s never the right thing to do! Think about how bad you would feel if someone did that to your house.
- Please have fun on Halloween but remember to be safe. Remember to act responsibly and enjoy yourself. Halloween is a fun time of year for kids, but it’s no fun to get hurt. Give your kids some precious Halloween memories that they’ll have for life. Make Halloween a fun, safe and happy time for your kids and they’ll carry on the tradition that you taught them to their own families some day!