Put the candy in the bag and no one gets hurt...
As fun as trick-or-treating is, it isn't without its share of dangers. It is a ripe opportunity for kidnappers- many children are in similar costumes that can make it difficult for police to correctly identify stolen children. There are sickos out there who put razors in homemade treats and tamper with storebought ones. It's enough to make a parent lock their doors and never let their child see sunlight again! However, by simply following some common-sense tips, trick-or-treating can be fun and safe for everyone, and less worrisome for you. Please feel free to save the list to your hard drive and print it out so that you have a handy checklist ready anytime- most of these tips can be used year-round!
Please Note: The following checklist is (c) 2007 by me. You are allowed to save it to your hard drive or print it for personal use only. (Teachers, please email me for special classroom permissions.) You are not allowed to redistribute this list without written permission. You are required to link back to me if you receive permission to use this list on your site. Using another person's content without permission and claiming it as your own is stealing!
Trick-or-Treating Safety Tips:
- Never let children under the age of 14 go out trick-or-treating without an adult. If you can't take them, send an older sibling or trusted adult along as a chaperone.
- If you are letting your older teen go trick-or-treating with a group of friends, make sure they have a working cell phone and watch. Set clear guidelines for where your teen can go, and when your teen MUST be back home. Suprise them every half-hour to 45 minutes or so with a friendly call to see "how everything's going" or "what kind of candy you're bringing home for me", and you're more likely to have a teen who arrives home stone-cold sober, STD-free, and sans potential for parenthood. Hickeys are not necessarily preventable with the phone-tag method, sorry.
- Go in groups. There is safety in numbers, so if you have a few parents in the neighborhood who are taking their kids trick-or-treating as well, lump together and go en-masse to collect the goodies.
- Take pictures of the child in their costume (with and without the mask, if there is one) with either a digital camera or a Polaroid, and keep it with you. If the unlikely happens and your child disappears, you'll have a current photo, and be able to show the police exactly what the costume looked like. Current photos help officers enormously when looking for missing children!
- Take a fully charged cellular phone with you, along with a list of any medications or conditions your child has, and something to write on and with, just in case. There's always that one idiot driver who speeds around like there aren't little kids on the street, and in case he actually does damage to your child (or someone else's) you'll be fully prepared to call the emergency authorities and write down the make/model/license plate number of the vehicle.
- Make sure you eat dinner before you go trick-or-treating. Bring bottled drinks and light snacks as well, in case all the walking around makes you or your children peckish. This way your children don't have a chance to nibble uninspected treats on-the-go.
- Accept all treats with a pleasant thank you... but once you get home throw away the homemade treats from adults you don't know well and any packaged goodies that look like they have been opened or otherwise tampered with, just in case.
- For young children that can walk on their own (think 3-6) but like to wander off, an easy way to keep track of them is to literally leash them. A bit of climbing rope tied from your waist to theirs, with about 5 feet of space between you both, can make sure you know exactly where your little explorer is at all times.
- Some parents take children too young to know what's going on trick-or-treating. I've personally seen everything from newborns to groups of 25-year-olds scrapping for candy. It's up to you what you want to do for the over-18s, but you should probably have three buckets: one with things like pacifiers, diaper coupons, baby food, and teething rings in a bucket for the under-2s; one with toddler snacks and toys; and one for those over 4-years-old. Not only does this keep trick-or-treating focused on the children, it prevents parents from mooching candy intended for little kids.
- Candy isn't always necessary. If you don't want to contribute to the after-Halloween-hypers, or are worried about childhood diabetes, go to your local discount store and get small toys, Halloween themed pencils, small coloring books, or what have you.
- Always make sure your child has a working flashlight with fresh batteries for the night. This helps them be more visible to traffic, and also helps prevent common mishaps like tripping over cracks in the sidewalk or on unlighted stairs.