6 Tips for Planning a Safe Halloween

candy
Image via Katie Hurley

Halloween tops the favorite holiday list for many kids each year, and for good reason.  It’s fun to dress up.  Going house to house in search of free candy that isn’t some part of a reward for good behavior is pretty much a dream come true.  And running around after dark with friends certainly is alluring.

Kids can become over-stimulated, excited, and even anxious on nights like Halloween.

 Pay close attention your child's behavioral cues and adjust your plans accordingly to ensure a fun and safe night out with friends.

But as much fun as Halloween is, it can also be a dangerous night for little ones.  Between the risky combination of dark costumes and dark streets and larger groups of kids running around, car accidents are fairly common and kids can get separated from their parents.  And then there are strangers and food allergies to think about.

It’s important to be prepared.

6 tips for planning a safe Halloween:

 

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Image via Flickr/erin.kkr

Plan your route:

You probably have a general idea of your trick-or-treating route, but it helps to plan a specific route and walk it during the day with your kids.  Streets and houses look different when the lights go down, and this can be confusing and unsettling for little kids.

The more familiar they are with the route, the better they will feel walking it at night.

 

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Image via Flickr/greger.ravik

Identify safe houses:

Children under the age of 12 need supervision when trick-or-treating, but even when closely monitored kids can get turned around and lost in the chaos of the night.  Identify a few safe houses of trusted friends and neighbors.  Point them out to your child both during the day and at night.  Let your kids know that trusted adults in these safe houses will help them find their way home.

It can’t hurt to write “mom” followed by your phone number in washable marker on your child’s arm.  If you two do separate, you’re just a phone call away if another parent finds your child lost and confused.

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Image via Flickr/jronaldlee

Rely on light:

Flashlights with fresh batteries for each child and parent are a must.  Reflective tape on costumes can help drivers spot your child in the dark, and neon necklaces, bracelets, and glow sticks are also helpful.

 

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Image via iStock

Choose bright costumes:

Masks can make it hard for kids to see, so it’s best to avoid them with younger children.  Try some face paint instead.  Costumes in bright colors can help you keep an eye on your child and help drivers see your child on the road.  Make sure that the costumes fit!  Costumes that are too long can cause kids to trip and fall.

 

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Image via Flickr/Cale Bruckner

Approach well-lit homes:

There’s no rule that you have to go to every house on the street, particularly dark homes (generally a sign that trick-or-treaters are not welcome) or ones with scary decorations (Halloween should be fun).

Choose houses that are well lit and approach the houses with your kids.  Remind your children never to enter a home without you.

 

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Image via Flickr/Moxieg 

Stay on top of food allergies:

It is extremely tempting to tear open candy and eat it along the way.  This is a no-no for kids with food allergies.  The writing on small candy packages can be very small and difficult to read by flashlight, and you simply can’t take chances.

Carry a safe treat on you in the event that other kids are eating along the way, so that your child isn’t completely left out.

Ask a few neighbors if you can plant non-food treats in their treat bowls and let them know what your child will be wearing or carry a bag of replacement treats on you and swap them out as you go.

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6 Tips for Planning a Safe Halloween

Katie Hurley, LCSW is a Child and Adolescent Psychotherapist and writer in Los Angeles, CA. She is the author of "No More Mean Girls: The Secret to Raising Strong, Confident, and Compassionate Girls" and "The Happy Kid Handbook: How to Raise Joyful Children in a Stressful World". She earned her BA in Psychology and Women's Studies from Boston College and her MSW from the University of Pennsylvania. She divides her time between her family, her private practice and her writing. Passionate about he ... More

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