Depending on the straw you draw — will it be Mom who stays home doling out the sweet treats while Dad makes the neighborhood rounds with the kids, or vice versa? — parents play the biggest role in making sure the Halloween experience is safe and fun for all children. If you are expecting a lot youngsters shouting “Trick-or-Treat!” at your doorstep tonight, the American Academy of Pediatrics suggests tidying things up around the house:
- To keep homes safe for visiting trick-or-treaters, parents should remove from the porch and front yard anything a child could trip over such as garden hoses, toys, bikes and lawn decorations.
- Parents should check outdoor lights and replace burned-out bulbs.
- Wet leaves should be swept from sidewalks and steps.
- Restrain pets so they do not inadvertently jump on or bite a trick-or-treater.
If you are the designated parent keeping close tabs on your trick-or-treaters as they walk/run/sprint from house to house, these tips from the AAP might come in handy:
- A parent or responsible adult should always accompany young children on their neighborhood rounds.
- Obtain flashlights with fresh batteries for all children and their escorts.
- If your older children are going alone, plan and review the route that is acceptable to you. Agree on a specific time when they should return home.
- Only go to homes with a porch light on and never enter a home or car for a treat.
- Because pedestrian injuries are the most common injuries to children on Halloween, remind trick-or-treaters:
- Stay in a group and communicate where they will be going.
- Remember reflective tape for costumes and trick-or-treat bags.
- Carry a cell phone for quick communication.
- Remain on well-lit streets and always use the sidewalk.
- If no sidewalk is available, walk at the far edge of the roadway facing traffic.
- Never cut across yards or use alleys.
- Only cross the street as a group in established crosswalks (as recognized by local custom). Never cross between parked cars or out of driveways.
- Don’t assume the right of way. Motorists may have trouble seeing trick-or-treaters. Just because one car stops, doesn’t mean others will!
- Law enforcement authorities should be notified immediately of any suspicious or unlawful activity.
Pediatrician Dr. Jaime Friedman adds:
An adult should always accompany small children while trick-or-treating. Make sure everyone wears reflective tape or carries a flashlight. Instruct children to stay together, don’t run ahead or in the street, only go to homes that are lit up and to always stay on the sidewalk.
Although the world comes to a standstill for our kids on Halloween, we all know it keeps on moving for everyone else. So we still need to watch for cars and kids.
If you are walking with your kids on Halloween night, keep a close watch for drivers. If you are on main roads, make sure to cross the street at crossways or stop signs. Try to make eye contact with drivers before crossing the street. Make sure they know you’re crossing before you step into the road.
If you are driving around kiddos on Halloween night or maybe just driving home after work, be extra careful. Go a little slower. Watch for kids running down driveways. Excited kids and loads of sugar don’t always mix.
Remember: Nothing goes in your child’s mouth until treat bags are emptied and examined for any spoiled, unwrapped, or suspicious items:
Before letting your kids gorge themselves on their goodies, go through all the candy. Remove anything with packaging that is damaged. Also take out items that aren’t really appropriate for the age of your kid. Remove hard candies that can be choking hazards in younger kids. If you have a kid in braces, take out the items with nuts and taffy. And even if you’ve approved the items in your kids’ bags, do not let them run around with suckers or candy in their mouths. Choking is a real hazard and it is scary and dangerous.
Finally, teach your kids to pace themselves. They don’t need a tummy ache tomorrow morning and you will want some candy to last for at least as long as you keep dipping into their sweet loot!