Going Trick-or-Treating is a favorite of children. Here are some suggestions on how to make it safer for parents, children, youth and homeowners.
If you buy a costume, look for one made of flame-retardant material and add reflective tape.
Feed your child dinner before setting out.
Make a map of the streets they will be going on and they should not change the plan.
Children under the age of 11 should be accompanied by an adult. You can watch from several feet back.
If your children go on their own, be sure they wear a watch (or have a cell phone), preferably one that can be read in the dark. Set time limits.
Older children should know where to reach you and when to be home. Cell phones can provide connection.
Although tampering is rare, tell children to bring the candy home to be inspected before consuming anything.
Look at the wrapping carefully and toss out anything that looks suspicious. And remember-it isn’t fair, funny, or a good example to your child to bite into a piece and mumble, “Ummm, yep, it’s safe.”
Go over the Trick-or-Treat suggestions below with your child.
Make sure costumes don’t drag on the ground or have long tails that could trip a child or catch on fire if near a candle or lighted pumpkin.
Shoes should fit, even if they don’t go with the costume.
Carry a flashlight or glow sticks.
Walk, don’t run.
Stay on sidewalks.
Obey traffic signs and signals.
Stay in familiar neighborhoods. Never go into a stranger’s home.
Don’t cut across yards or driveways.
Avoid wearing masks while walking from house to house. Try face paint.
Labeling on face paint should have one or more of the following: “Made with U.S. Approved Color Additives,” “Laboratory Tested,” “Meets Federal Standards for Cosmetics,” and /or “Non-Toxic.”
Carry only flexible knives, swords or other props.
If no sidewalks, walk on the left side of the road facing traffic.
Approach only houses that are lit.
Stay away from and don’t pet animals you don’t know.
Make sure your yard is clear of such things as ladders, hoses, dog leashes and flowers pots that can trip the young ones.
Pets get frighten on Halloween. Put them up to protect them from cars or inadvertently biting a trick-or treater.
Battery powered jack o’lantern candles are preferable to real flame.
If you do use candles, place the pumpkin well away from where trick-or-treaters will be walking or standing. Could be a fire hazard.
Make sure paper or cloth yard decorations won’t be blown into a flaming candle.
Healthy food alternatives for trick-or-treaters include packages of low-fat crackers with cheese or peanut butter filling, single-serve boxes of cereal, packaged fruit rolls, mini boxes of raisins and single-serve bags of popcorn.
Non-food treats: plastic rings, glow sticks, pencils, stickers, erasers, coins, Halloween party favors and coupons for free items. In fact, one research project found that 50% of the children preferred non-food treats over food when given the option to pick.
Following these considerations will make Trick-or Treating safer and fun for everyone.
Pat Brinkman is the Family and Consumer Sciences Extension Educator for Ohio State University Extension in Fayette County.