Oct 30 2013

Safe-Smart Halloween Tips

Published by at 7:14 PM under Abduction Prevention,Child Safety

Every year people ask me if Trick or Treating is still a safe tradition. My answer is YES. Enjoy the holiday with your kids, but of course, take a few precautions whether your kids are young and going out with you or if they are a little bit older and venturing out into the neighborhood with friends (which I typically advise waiting until your child is at least 12 years old in most cases). For little ones, there’s a lot of sensory issues on Halloween:  spooky costumes, scary decorations, so please keep that in mind if your little one gets a little overloaded by all the sights & sounds, and activity.

  • Before venturing out with young children, remind kids that this is one day a year, and that it’s OK to take the treats from other people because mom/dad/or safe adult is still WITH them. If it’s not Halloween, no taking candy from people we don’t know!
  • There’s a good chance some of the costumes other people are wearing can be pretty scary to a young child. If your child becomes afraid because they’ve seen a “scary or gruesome character”, gently reassure your child that it’s make-believe and that character isn’t real. Remind them they are safe because you’re with them. You can even agree with your child that the costume is yucky and then turn it around to a positive like “I’m glad you’re a ….. (pirate, princess, etc)…. this year!” Validate their feelings, and if they need to take a little break for a few minutes, allow them time to re-gain their composure and confidence again before ringing the next doorbell.
  • Keep an eye open as the kids walk up to front door of a house, (or go right up to the door w/them) so that they’re not going inside for the treats.
  • Also a good idea to stay nearby as they ring doorbells — just in case there’s a BIG DOG that also likes to get in on the action. Kids can get really scared by this, and then run away fast, trip over their costume, etc. I can’t tell you how many times I have seen that scenario, where someone answers their front door with a huge German Shepherd (or some other big dog) and kids scream and go running!

Check out the tips below for a few more reminders for kids of all ages and have a happy Halloween!

1.  Plan your route ahead of time and check your state’s Megan’s Law Sex Offender register. If there is an offender living in your neighborhood, be sure to skip that house. If your teens or tweens are trick or treating on their own, instruct them skip that one. If they ask why, let them know that the person who lives there simply is not a “safe grownup.” In California, the Megan’s Law website is www.meganslaw.ca.gov. To check the sex offender register in other states, go to: *www.nsopw.gov and follow the prompts.
*(United States Dept. of Justice, National Sex Offender Public Website or visit www.familywatchdog.us )

2. Children under 12 should be accompanied by a responsible adult.
3. Older kids should trick or treat in a group or with a buddy – not alone.
4. Stay in familiar neighborhoods & only visit houses that are well lit.
5. If a child gets lost, or feels scared or threatened for any reason, they should seek out another MOM WITH KIDS for help. That’s a safe stranger in an emergency.
6. Be very wary of any adult stranger (without kids) who suddenly tries to join you as you trick or treat. If kids are on their own, they should say NO and get away from that person quickly.
7. Stay in the open, don’t take shortcuts through alleys or unlit backyards.
8. Kids on their own should never get into a car with anyone no matter how friendly…unless they have already gotten permission from their parents ahead of time or have called you to CHECK FIRST.
9. Carry a flashlight and a fully charged cell phone. (Make sure older kids who are on their own do so as well.)
10. For young children, write down your cell phone #, have them carry it in a pocket or an easily accessible place (like inside their treat or treat bag).   If they can’t find you,  they can ask another Mom w/kids to call you.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 11. Set a firm time limit on how long kids can be out on their own.
12. All treats must be inspected by a parent first. Do not eat any unwrapped or partially wrapped treats.
13. Wear brightly colored clothes or use some reflective tape on kids’ costumes or bag. If you’re the grownup taking out a group of children, wear something that can be easily seen by the kids.

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