It’s Halloweening time again, folks. I thought I’d share a few tips for keeping yourself, and the little ones safe on this annual night of spooks, goblins, tricks and treating. Seems that every year it gets worse and worse with the problems that we encounter. By pausing long enough to think through the event(s) you can develop a strategy that will keep everyone safe and secure.

Kids and trick or treating;

  • When it comes to costumes, make sure you pick one for your child that has eye holes big enough that they can see clearly all around them. Many costumes have narrow slits, and that may work well on a pigs mask for a policeman’s uniform, or maybe make your kid look more sinister, but that can be dangerous. Also, make sure that the costume doesn’t impede their walking ability, or doesn’t hang down long enough for them, or someone else to step on it. Also make certain the costume is made of fireproof material.
  • If they have a costume that uses some sort of object like a knife or cleaver, get one that is made of soft rubber so no one gets hurt when they wave it around. It’s par for the course to have two boys, or girls, have a sword fight when they get together. It may be a good playtime activity, but those hard plastic props can sting pretty bad with enough force applied, unintended or otherwise.
  • Make sure your kids do not eat any of the candy they collect until you can inspect it. If anything appears tampered with, toss it out. Really suspicious items should be given to the local police for investigation. Apples have been a standard item of risk as needles and razor blades have a reputation for winding up inside of them.
  • Make sure your kids do not talk with strangers or get into any cars, unless it is yours.
  • Give your kids a flashlight, and carry one for yourself as well. Reflective strips on costumes and clothing can make them more visible to oncoming traffic as well. There are glow sticks on the market that give quite a bit of illumination that you can buy. I’ve heard that some of these have been recalled, so be careful of which ones you buy.
  • Have them use extreme caution when crossing the street, and they should be utilizing crosswalks when available.
  • Make sure that an adult accompanies them, and it’s better if a bunch of kids go together as a group. Know the route ahead of time, and make sure everyone sticks to it.
  • Secure all candles, whether in a holder or in a pumpkin. It doesn’t take much to knock one over and start a fire. If you can, it’s better to use those little disposable lamps that operate on battery power in place of a candle.

Your front yard;

  • Make sure you have a clear path to your front door. Toys and bicycles should be picked up and put away before darkness sets in.
  • Light the walkway with either a sidewalk lamp, or get those solar powered lights that simply push into the ground. It is safer if you can see where you are walking.
  • Don’t have any loose extension cords or wires dangling around your displays. There is always some eager trick or treater who will cut across the yard without wasting time on the sidewalks.
  • Don’t put up displays that are broken or have sharp edges.
  • Music and sound effects should be at a reasonable volume so as not to annoy the neighbors or distract people from what they are doing.
  • Keep your animals inside for the night. A dog running around the yard may get too excited and bite someone.

Jack-o-lanterns;

  • When cutting a pumpkin with your youngster, always use a dull edges cutting tool. There are cutters on the market with safety in mind, and they have blade guards and serrated edges to make cutting easier.
  • As I mentioned, try to use the battery operated lamps instead of a candle when illuminating the jack-o-lantern.
  • Make sure your kids understand that tossing and breaking anyone’s pumpkin is not a right thing to do. They may end up breaking a window or hitting and hurting another person.
  • If you must put your pumpkin where there is a lot of dry foliage and leaves, try to place it in a flat container filled with sand, and rake up around the spot before lighting the candle.

Misc;

  • Drive slower than normal, and keep alert to little folks jutting out into the street.
  • Have a meet up place that everyone knows about. If problems arise tell them to make a beeline for that meet up place.
  • Carry a fully charged sell phone in case you have to call for assistance.
  • It might be a good idea to take all the kids to dinner before trick or treating. That way they’ll not be hungry and be tempted to eat any candy before it can be inspected. Of course, temptation is tough for any kid to resist, so that’s not a fool proof plan.
  • Minimize, or abstain from using alcohol. Even one drink can slow your reflexes and thought processes down, and a tragedy could result from that.

Whether you go door to door or just take in a party, your kids should have a good time, and so shouldn’t you. It’s a great time to dress up and spend some good quality time with your children. Enjoy the evening, and don’t get sick on the candy, please. These are just a few tips, and with a little thinking and digging you can come up with a lot more. If you have any you’d like to share, email them to me at editor@survivingmaine.com. And by the way-BOO! Are you scared yet?

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