I have been particularly excited about Halloween this year because it gives me an excuse to buy a LOT of chocolate. I am blaming my over-purchasing of candy on all of the potential trick-or-treaters I will have at my house. When the grocery store clerk eyed my pregnant belly and the 10 pound bag of candy I just bought, I exclaimed, “All for the kids in costume!”(meanwhile, having opened the bag in the store just to sample some of the peanut butter cups). As much as I am looking forward to eating candy and giving out candy, Halloween always makes me a little bit nervous. It can be a very fun and memorable evening, but it should also be a night where you are particularly aware of the safety of your children, pets and home.
Here are some tips to keep you and your children safe this Halloween:
- If you have recently PSCed and/or are unfamiliar with your current neighborhood and town, consider taking your children to a community sponsored event. With a community sponsored event, you do not have to worry about ringing doorbells and walking around a neighborhood you do not feel comfortable in. Check with local churches, community centers and your town's chamber of commerce to find events.
- Before Halloween, sit down with your family and talk about the dangers of Halloween. Begin with teaching your children what to do if they are approached by a stranger. Warn them to not talk to people they do not know and especially not to enter the home or vehicle of a person they are unfamiliar with. The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children recommends: Teaching your children if anyone tries to grab them to draw attention to themselves and loudly yell "This person is trying to take me," or "This person is not my father/mother." Instruct your children to make every effort to escape by walking, running, or pulling away; yelling; kicking; attracting attention; and/or otherwise resisting.
- Do not let your children trick-or-treat without a chaperone. Halloween is a notorious night for mischief and you will rest easier knowing your kids are having a safe and accident-free evening. Many accounts of vandalism and animal cruelty are unfortunately reported on Halloween, so be on the lookout for anything out of the ordinary and report it to your local authorities.
- Make sure to inspect all candy and treats before you let your kids eat them. Make sure to remove any pre-opened candy, choking hazards and homemade baked goods (from people who you do not know). The FDA goes as far to recommend, "Inspecting commercially wrapped treats for signs of tampering, such as an unusual appearance or discoloration, tiny pinholes, or tears in wrappers." Throw away anything that looks suspicious! I recommend limiting candy intake that evening (I remember how my parents felt after my sister and I ate 10 pixie sticks a piece - sugar high anyone!?). Providing your children with a hearty meal before trick or treating will help them be less tempted to eat candy before your inspection.
- DONATE! After sorting the candy (and picking out a few for yourself), consider donating your extra candy to local shelters or a program like the Halloween Candy Buyback program that sends your candy donations to Operation Gratitude for their holiday care packages for deployed service members. Operation Shoebox also collects and distributes candy to deployed service members.
Hope you have an enjoyable and chocolate-filled Halloween!
Please share in the comments how you ensure your children have a fun and SAFE Halloween.