"Trick or treat!" That's the phrase shouted with glee by many a youngster across the country every Halloween night. But before your ghosts and goblins trick or treat this year, parents should keep in mind these trick or treating safety tips to make sure the only howls are those of fun.
Trick or treating safety tips for youngsters:
Have each child carry or wear something lit, such as a flashlight, glow bracelet or necklace, or flashing attire for visibility. Light-up shoes are also practical, and ever-so-noticeable on a dark Halloween night.
Adults should plan out a route in advance and check it during the daylight for such obstacles as broken sidewalks (or no sidewalks), construction timber, or other obstacles that could trip up trick or trickers. Trick or treat in familiar neighborhoods or areas.
Require well-fitting shoes to be worn; preferably sneakers. While adorable in the store as a costume accessory, kids planning to go trick or treat should wear sturdy shoes and not the princess high-heel, too-large boots, or other types of shoes often shown with costumes. Save those types of shoes for costume parties and not when a child is going trick or treat. Their feet--and most likely you who may end up carrying either the shoes or the child--will be thankful.
Avoid costumes that drag on the ground. While cute initially, costumes that drag can trip up little feet, get caught on bushes, and create a tussle that sometimes results in the child wanting to remove the costume. Remember, kids who trick or treat want to be costumed AND comfortable.
With the thought of comfort, pick costumes that are bathroom-friendly as well. On this same subject, parents should pre-plan a bathroom stop along the way (a friends' house will do and is a good time for a water break as well), or at a public facility if driving.
Be sure a child's mask allows full visibility and breathing. Spiderman masks, for example, sometimes only have small eye slits and nothing for the nose or mouth. Parents should try on masks for size and not hesitate to cut out larger openings for a trick or treater's comfort. If possible, find a mask that "breathes" and is easy to put on and off. The types of mask that easily can slide up on the head and then pulled down are best.
Trick or treaters should walk, not run, and should never cut across lawns or driveways. Obstacles could exist that aren't readily visible in the evening.
Only carry flexible props, such as knives, swords, ninja items, etc., that can't cause injury if a kid accidentally falls. No play prop should resemble the real item; and consider leaving play weapons at home and not part of trick or treat night. Remember, some individuals are offended by seeing small children carry these items; and trick or treating should be a fun and positive experience for everyone.
Only trick or treat at houses that are lit. Residents who do not wish to be bothered by trick or treaters often leave off their lights as a sign; respect their preference by only going to houses that are lit.
Be sure kids don't get over-heated and keep hydrated. Plan costumes according to weather; don't have your child dress in an adorable lions costume with heavy fur and hood if you live in Southern states where temperatures could still be in the 80s in the evening; by the same token, a fairy costume might be impractical for a cold northern evening. Be one of those creative parents who accessorizes jackets or thinks "cool comfort" for their kids.
Think "practical" over "cute" when picking a trick or treat goody bag or container. Some of seemingly-fun ones sold in stores are heavy--before any treats are added; others are too long and will drag the ground or have sharp edges that could scrape against tender skin. One of the best and simplest suggestions is have kids utilize a backpack to keep their hands free except for perhaps a flashlight.
Keep track of time and don't trick or treat after 9 p.m. (general recommendation). That allows ample time for children to trick or treat, and by then, the excitement of the evening and the candy/treats means little ghouls will be tired, anyhow.
See next page for trick or treat tips for parents and residents.
Halloween Ideas Beyond Trick or Treating: