“When the witches go riding, and black cats are seen, the moon laughs and whispers ’tis near Halloween.”
Trick-or-treating has been a Halloween tradition in the United States for more than a century but its roots are far deeper. In ancient Celtic celebrations, villagers disguised themselves in costumes made of animal skins to drive away phantom visitors. To make the phantoms less angry, banquet tables were prepared with food.
Modern-day Halloween, of course, looks much different. Costumes don’t require animal skin, many of the “phantoms” are now cute little ghosts, pirates, and Disney princesses, and all they want is some candy. Kids love Halloween, so let’s make it a safe and enjoyable time for them.
Many of these safety tips should be used year-round…like looking both ways before you cross a street, keeping your head up rather than focusing on your phone, and not getting into a stranger’s car…but they’re especially important on this evening when street and sidewalk traffic is especially heavy. Children are more than twice as likely to be hit by a car and killed on Halloween than on any other day of the year due to low lighting at night and lack of visibility.
Black cats will prowl and pumpkins will gleam…but let’s all be safe…on Halloween.
- Incorporate reflective tape into costumes and bags and carry glow sticks or flashlights.
- Cross the street at corners, using traffic signals and crosswalks. Look left, right, and left again when crossing, and keep looking as you cross.
- Put electronic devices down, keep your head up and walk, don’t run, across the street.
- Teach children to make eye contact with drivers before crossing in front of them.
- Walk on sidewalks or paths. If there are no sidewalks, walk facing traffic as far to the left as possible. Children should walk on direct routes with the fewest street crossings.
- Watch for cars that are turning or backing up. Teach children to never dart out into the street or cross between parked cars.
- Join kids under age 12 for trick-or-treating. If kids are mature enough to be out without supervision, tell them to stick to familiar areas and homes that are well-lit, trick-or-treat in groups, and agree on a specific time to return home. Never go out alone.
- Slow down and be especially alert in residential neighborhoods. Costumes may be dark and children may move in unpredictable ways.
- Take extra time to look for kids at intersections, on medians, and on curbs.
- Enter and exit driveways and alleys slowly and carefully.
- Get rid of any distractions – like your phone – in your car so you can concentrate on the road and your surroundings.
- Turn your headlights on earlier in the day to spot children from greater distances.
- Trick-or-treat during popular hours like 5:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m., although you’ll want to check your area to see if they have specified certain hours. Be especially alert for kids at those times. With Halloween actually falling on a Monday this year, be aware even over the weekend.
Every year, there seems to be a new scare when it comes to Halloween treats. To be on the safe side, follow these tips and don’t assume that everyone on your route has good intentions.
- Don’t let children enter a home to accept candy.
- Teach kids to not eat anything…especially on Halloween…until it has been inspected by an adult.
- Toss any candy or treats that haven’t been commercially produced and wrapped.
- Closely inspect wrapped treats looking for signs of tampering like discoloration, pinholes, or tears in wrappers.
- Encourage teeth brushing frequently when consuming sugary treats to keep teeth healthy and safe. Dark chocolate, milk chocolate, and sugar-free gum are better bets to avoid cavities.
- Be aware of any candies that contain potentially harmful ingredients like peanuts, tree nuts, dairy, or gluten if you’re dealing with allergies.
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