9 Tips for Safe Trick-or-Treating
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Ghosts and goblins aren’t your only worry on Halloween night
Keep the kids safe with these helpful tips.
There comes a time in every parent's life when their child makes a dreaded confession: they don’t want you to go trick-or-treating with them anymore. As crushing as it is, letting them enjoy the holiday with their friends is a rite of passage. They've already picked out their costume and their pillow cases are ready to be filled with candy, but admit it: as excited as you might be for their first Halloween alone, you're worried about them, too. After all, the night is dark and potentially full of spookier mishaps than a run-in with a few ghosts. Nothing can cloud that parental instinct — not even a sugar rush.
You vow to check the candy, give the kids a curfew, and limit how far they can travel, but you still feel slightly unsettled sending them off into the night. Luckily for you, we have a mix of tech-savvy and practical solutions to ensure that your little ones are safe and sound on their trick-or-treating trek without mom and dad.
For instance, did you know that you can use Find My iPhone for more than just tracking your phone? Or how about the fact that setting boundaries has become far more concrete with geofencing technology? And sometimes, avoiding tampered candy scares is as simple as feeding your kids right before they venture out into the neighborhood. Even if you aren’t right there with them, you can still keep your kids out of harm’s way this Halloween with a few tricks of your own. Check out these useful tips for keeping you kid safe during Halloween!
Is It Safe to Trick-or-Treat?
For the young and the young at heart, one of the highlights of fall is Halloween—masquerading through neighborhoods with a bucket of sweet delights is a hallmark of childhood for many. But is it safe to trick-or-treat during the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic?
Although it is done outdoors—a plus because fresh air dilutes the virus—trick-or-treating is a high-risk activity, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
“The challenge with trick-or-treating is how potentially dense your trick-or-treating community is, as our usual way of trick-or-treating is to go in large packs,” says Emily Sickbert-Bennett, PhD, director of UNC Medical Center Infection Prevention. “Some neighborhoods and housing communities are pretty dense, which means you could come into contact with a lot of other people.”
Tips for Safe Trick-or-Treating
If there is not a widespread COVID-19 outbreak in your community, there are some steps you can take to make trick-or-treating possible for young goblins and witches, including:
- Trick-or-treat only with those in your household or in a small group.
- Connect with neighbors to stagger start times, so not everyone is out at the same time.
- Make sure everyone wears a mask—you can work it into the costume! before eating any treats, and be sure to carry hand sanitizer while out and about in case your child is tempted to taste a treat before getting home.
- Set out candy on a porch step or driveway as opposed to handing it out. If you want to be sure nobody swipes the whole bowl, set up a chair and watch trick-or-treaters from a distance of at least 6 feet.
- If you think you may have COVID-19 or you may have been exposed to someone with COVID-19, do not participate in any in-person Halloween festivities and do not give out candy to trick-or-treaters.
If your child does not want to wear a mask and cannot stay at least 6 feet apart from other children, or if you live in a dense area where you and your children cannot avoid close contact with others while trick-or-treating, consider finding other ways to enjoy Halloween.
Safety Tips for Other Fun Fall Activities
In addition to trick-or-treating, other fall activities include visiting pumpkin patches, haunted houses and fall festivals. This year, look for outdoor fall fun, and avoid anything indoors, including haunted houses.
“Indoor group settings where lots of people are congregating are more risky than outdoor activities,” Dr. Sickbert-Bennett says.
Even with outdoor activities such as a visit to the pumpkin patch, be aware of how much space you have and how many people might be in that space. Be sure to wear a mask and stay at least 6 feet apart from others.
“Be aware of your health and wellness on days when you have an activity planned, and make sure that you’re only going out when you’re feeling well,” Dr. Sickbert Bennett says.
Remember to use hand sanitizer when you get back to your car, and wash your hands as soon as you get home.
10 tips for safe and fun trick-or-treating
Halloween is all about great costumes, candy, and fun, but this holiday can prove dangerous if you don’t prepare ahead. The holiday’s most fun activity, trick-or-treating, can result in serious injuries if you don’t pay close attention during and after this Halloween tradition.
Consider taking some of these simple safety precautions before taking your kids out trick-or-treating in the neighborhood this year.
1. Plan your route in advance. Some parents choose to do a test run to time the route and ensure that it is safe and not too long. The length of your route should vary depending on the age of your children. Being prepared prevents arguments on the night of Halloween and it will prevent anyone from getting lost in the event that someone gets separated from the rest of the family.
2. Inspect all candy before it’s consumed. Any candy that appears to have been tampered with should be immediately thrown out. Remember that handmade treats may look nice, but are not safe to eat. All candy should be in its original wrapper for the safety of your children. This also gives parents an opportunity to check for possible choking hazards.
3. You can never have too much light. A flashlight will prevent a group from splitting up and avoid injuries. Reflective tape can also be added to costumes, treat bags, and coats to make kids clearly visible to drivers. You should be able to see everyone and everything, and everyone else should be able to see you.
4. Masks may look nice, but they can be dangerous. Many costumes come with masks, but the reality is that they can affect both your child’s vision and breathing. A safer alternative is to use non-toxic face paint to create a spooky mask.
5. Everyone should wear comfortable shoes. Some outfits may seem as though they require high heels, but it is always best to wear a pair of tennis shoes. This will prevent everyone from getting hurt, as well as avoid having to run home to switch shoes.
6. Choose routes with sidewalks. If possible, it is always best to try to stay on sidewalks and only cross the street at designated and well-lit areas.
7. Always stay in groups. Older children may want to separate themselves from their parents and younger siblings, but there is strength in numbers. Only allow an older child to go trick or treating without you if he or she is with a trusted group of friends that will obey all safety rules.
8. Never enter a stranger’s home. Reiterate rules regarding strangers to your children. Set a good example by being polite to the neighbors, but never entering their homes. You should also stress to your children that they may only go up to houses that have their lights on.
9. Keep Halloween costumes safe. Make sure that costumes are an appropriate length to avoid tripping. Keep accessories safe as well. Any knives, swords, guns, wands, or other props should be made of a flexible and soft rubber that will not hurt anyone.
10. Avoid luminaries or candles. Decorations may look festive, but even a jack-o-lantern can cause a costume to catch on fire. Costumes should always be made from flame-resistant materials, and it’s best to avoid flammable hair sprays.
You may need to take a little time to prepare ahead for Halloween, but these safety tips can help you make sure that the whole family has a fun and safe time.
Put The Cell Phone Away
Nothing can cause an accident like looking at your cell phone and not watching traffic. Your children are going to be so excited in their costumes and to get candy they are not going to be looking around or watching where they are going. You need to be focused on your kids and making sure they are safe. So, when you are walking along busy streets, put your phone down and watch your kids. Make sure that you get plenty of pictures before you start going door to door, so you aren’t tempted to look at your screen. Plus, we all know how kids are. You have to get pictures in their costumes right away before they get destroyed.
How to Handle Trick-or-Treating in 2020? Candy Companies Have Some Ideas
Whether it's socially distanced or online, Halloween can still happen in some form.
As the days gradually grow shorter and we inch closer to Halloween, parents and kids alike are understandably anxious about how trick-or-treating will function during the pandemic. With the course of events hard to predict seemingly from week to week, there&aposs no telling what late October has in store for us — especially with experts warning that Covid-19 could collide with the early days of flu season in a dangerous way.
As you might imagine, major candy companies have a very vested interest in ensuring American families feel they can safely celebrate Halloween. To that end, confectioners like The Hershey Company and Mars Wrigley are outlining some safety tips and alternative approaches so folks can safely stay in the spooky spirit of the season — and eat plenty of candy.
Recently, The Hershey Company launched a "Halloween 2020" website centered on tips for safe trick or treating. As conditions are different in pretty much every state and county, the site takes in data from the WHO, usafacts.org, and other sources to create a color-coded map of every U.S. county, offering recommendations for the safest way to experience Halloween in each location.
For example, those in a "yellow" zone could potentially try drive-up or contactless trick-or-treating, while families in "red" zones might want to stick to homebound activities like an in-house scavenger hunt or Zoom parties coordinated with the neighbors.
While Hershey hopes to help provide some clarity and advice (in addition to urging people to follow appropriate CDC regulations), Mars Wrigley has put their focus on turning Halloween into something of a virtual experience. The second the clock strikes midnight and the calendar turns to October 1st, they&aposll launch Treat Town, a free app billed as "the world&aposs first-ever digital Halloween Trick or Treating experience."
In essence, the app moves trick-or-treating into an online interactive space, where kids and families can create their own avatars, "host" trick-or-treaters, and collect in-app "candy" that can be redeemed for the real thing either at select retailers or online. For those in search of a safe alternative to going out to trick-or-treat (or just want to turn All Hallow&aposs Eve into a monthlong experience), it&aposs a decent way to replicate the ritual of Halloween without putting on (not so fun or spooky) masks.
Similar to Hershey, Mars Wrigley also recommends taking certain precautions before, during, and after trick-or-treating. Among the usual Halloween safety tips, their advice (developed in partnership with the National Safety Council) includes handing out wrapped candy, carrying hand sanitizer and extra masks, and letting candy sit for 24 hours — or disinfecting the wrappers —ore eating.
No matter how you approach it, Halloween is going to be at least a little bit scarier this year for reasons that have nothing to do with anyone&aposs costume. But with some advanced planning (and/or a smartphone), kids and parents don&apost have to give up on the holiday entirely. Here&aposs hoping that 2021 brings with it some less frightening times.
- Do your best to stay on sidewalks and walking paths while trick-or-treating, but when they aren’t available, be sure to face oncoming traffic and walk as far to the left as possible.
- It’s safest to cross the street at crosswalks and corners, and remind children to never cross the street without an adult.
- Look both ways before crossing the street, and never assume that a vehicle will stop.
- Bringing glow sticks or flashlights is a fun way to help kids see where they are going and to help prevent trips and falls. They also make it easier for drivers to see kids.
Trick-or-treating without a parent
- Children under age 12 should never trick or treat without an adult.
- While it is safe for older children to trick or treat without an adult, encourage them to stay with their friends and to never trick or treat alone.
- Before they head out, help them plan a trick or treating route on streets that you are familiar with and know to be safe.
- If possible, have your child carry a cell phone. This will help them stay in contact with you and help them in case of an emergency.
- Remind kids to only go to homes that have porch lights on and to never enter the home or car of someone they don’t know.
8 Ways to Make Sure Your Home Is Safe for Trick-or-Treaters
It's not every day you have dozens of kids banging down your door demanding sweet treats. And every Halloween, increased foot traffic and visitors up the chances that accidents might occur. Take these steps to make sure everyone has a safe and happy holiday.
1. Don't use burning candles in jack-o'-lanterns.
When your porch is crowded with excited kiddos, you don't want to add a fire hazard into the mix. If you're set on displaying an illuminated pumpkin, use glow sticks or flameless candles instead, says Amy Artuso Heinzen, program manager at the National Safety Council.
2. Keep paths well-lit.
Hopefully, you won't get many trick-or-treaters after dark, but make sure you leave exterior lights on (and replace any burnt-out bulbs) to help latecomers find their way.
3. Clear away debris.
Wet fallen leaves, errant litter, or even the leftovers from carving a pumpkin outside can create a surface on which visitors can slip. Make sure you clean up before they arrive.
4. Take note of any cracks in your sidewalk.
If you know your property has any trouble spots, consider blocking them with a chair, cone, or even some strategically placed decorations.
5. Minimize scary surprise greetings or decor.
"Young children don't understand what's real and what's fake," says Heinzen. "So opt for a friendly greeting when you see little ones approaching your house." Plus, when you cause people to jump back with fright, you're increasing the risk that they might accidentally injure themselves.
6. Keep pets away from the front door.
"Your pet might seem harmless to you," says Heinzen, "but we recommend keeping them away from kids they don't know."
7. Consider handing out candy from the front of your driveway.
This mitigates a few safety concerns, says Heinzen. First, you won't need to worry about kids running up your lawn, or tripping on paths. And you'll clearly show that you're welcoming neighborhood families in a friendly, inviting way.
8. Don't leave a candy dish on the porch unattended.
"Not only does the candy tend to disappear really quickly," says Heinzen. "But you also run the risk of attracting animals."
Trick-or-Treating in the Rich Neighborhood
I recently read an article in my local paper about the “best neighborhoods for trick-or-treating” and was a little annoyed by the premise, which seemed to be that it’s now de rigueur for families to drive around town trolling for the best loot. When I was a kid, my parents would never have driven me to the other side of town to trick-or-treat, and I think doing so is bad form. It means putting undue pressure on some houses to supply all the candy.
Dear Halloween Grinch,
Kids used to visit only houses within walking distance on Halloween. But it’s increasingly common for parents to schlep their little ninjas and witches to another part of town, cherry-picking which houses to hit. Patrick Brennan, father of a two-year-old in Phoenix, Arizona, says: “There are parents who actually pull up and drop their kids off so they can knock on the door of one house and then pick them up and chauffeur them to the next place.”
These are not necessarily underprivileged families turning to richer neighborhoods because their own neighbors can’t afford candy. (For one thing, candy is cheap.) I suspect the explanation for this behavior is that many parents today don’t know their neighbors, and at the same time, people are much more frightened of “stranger danger.” Some neighborhoods feel safer than others, partly owing to the fact that there are more children there trick-or-treating. So it’s a chicken-and-egg phenomenon.
I wouldn’t say it’s “rude” to trick-or-treat in another neighborhood. But it is a little sad. Cheesy as this may sound, Halloween is not just about your kid getting the most candy or getting to see the best decorations. For some people, Halloween is perhaps the only day when we meet our neighbors face to face (or face to zombie mask).
So parents who are plotting how to target the “best” neighborhoods should consider starting a trick-or-treat tradition in their own. One way to organize this is to flier the blocks around you asking people to join an email group for local residents. You can pool resources, share tips, maybe even send one person out to buy all the fake cobwebs. The nice thing about delegating is there’s always one person who’s really, really, really into Halloween.
I’m not saying that trick-or-treating on your home turf is always more fun. I’ll never forget the evil neighbor of mine who thought it was amusing to hand out chocolate cupcakes spiked with unbelievably hot chili powder (though we did get revenge by mailing the crusty bits back to him). But when knocking on neighboring doors, you at least have the possibility of making a connection. And chances are, the better your neighbors know you, the more candy they’ll give you.
Texoma with Kids
Are you wondering if Wichita Falls has a specific day and time for trick-or-treating this Halloween? The city of Wichita Falls does not. But officials do recommend that they do so the evening of Halloween, October 31 between a time of 6:00 pm to 8:00 pm for trick-or-treating.
Please also consider the following safety suggestions before venturing out on Halloween:
1. Costumes, wigs, trick or treat bags/containers, should be flame retardant or resistant
2. Costumes should be short enough to avoid tripping
3. Reflective material should be on the front and back of the outfit
4. Choose makeup over a mask but if using a mask make sure it has eye holes that do not
obstruct vision, ear holes that allow for normal hearing and a hole for the mouth to allows
for normal breathing
5. Do not carry sharp objects
6. Costumes should fit loosely to allow for freedom of movement
Trick or Treating
1. Adults should always accompany children
2. Trick or treat in groups
3. Establish a return time for children old enough to trick or treat without a parent
4. Plan a route in well-known areas
5. Stay in well-lit areas, do not allow children to take shortcuts through alleys,
6. Children should carry flashlights, have reflective material on their costumes and/or use
light sticks so they will be seen by motorists
7. Children should only knock on the door of a house that has lights on
8. Never enter the home of a stranger
9. Never open the vehicle of a stranger
10. Observe all traffic signs and laws
11. Stay on the sidewalk
12. Walk do not run from place to place especially when crossing the street, do not pass
the street between parked cars
13. Carry a cell phone
14. Do not eat treats until home and inspected by an adult
15. Report any suspicious activity to the Police Department
A few years ago I was Rosie the Riveter and Oaklee was a train conductor.
1. Drive slow, very slow, with lights and flashers on if in a neighborhood with trick or
2. Observe for children crossing the street between cars and from obstructed areas
1. Inspect all candy for signs of tampering: small holes, re-wrapping or torn packaging
2. Throw out any suspicious candy
3. Homemade goodies should only be consumed if given by friends or relatives