Trick-or-treating safety tips
Don’t take candy from strangers! Oh, except on Halloween, of course.
Are we confusing our children? Not if we take the time to communicate with them and explain why, one day every year, there is an exception to this safety rule.
Candy is but one area of concern to keep Halloween a safe and fun holiday for our children.
Imagine that you were Mr. and Mrs. Watson, who more than a decade ago, lost both their son and daughter while trick-or-treating on Halloween night. Four-year-old Prince and seven-year-old Jasmine were struck by a weaving driver as they walked along a roadway in Biscoe, Arkansas. “It was like a nightmare,” Mrs. Watson remembered painfully.
The van dragged the children more than 70 feet. Jasmine died immediately. Prince died a few hours later at the hospital. The Watson family is now on a mission, hoping to save lives as they warn other parents to keep their children close on Halloween night.
Parents, if you teach your children to follow these suggested safety rules, they will enjoy a safe and memorable Halloween adventure:
- Before your children leave for trick-or-treating, even if you are going with them, use your cell phone’s camera and take a picture of them with and without their costumes on. These pictures will become very important should something tragic happen.
- Explain to your children the difference between tricks and vandalism.
- Set a curfew so you and your children know exactly what time they should return home from trick-or-treating.
- Wear a bright colored costume. If your child’s costume is dark, place reflective tape on the front and back of the costume. So your child won’t complain, shape the tape in a form agreeable to you and your child.
- Wear makeup instead of a mask. If the costume comes with a mask, have the child wear it on the top of the head, or remove it, when crossing roadways.
- If your child is carrying a prop, such as a scythe or a pitch fork, make sure the tips are smooth and flexible enough not to cause injury if fallen upon.
- Stay with a big group, preferably one with an adult. There is safety in numbers. Stress the importance of not splitting up. You may even offer an extra special treat to the group when they return safely home with the same trick-or-treaters as when they left.
- Teach your children basic, everyday safety, such as not getting into cars, talking to strangers, and obeying traffic laws. Also, reinforce the importance of sticking to the agreed upon trick-or-treat route.
- Only visit houses that have their front porch light on, and never enter a stranger’s house.
- Don’t allow your children to eat any candy they receive until you have had a chance to take what you want first. Wait, did I write that? I meant, look at it first. As a parent, this can be somewhat unnerving. How are you supposed to know what candy is okay to eat, and what candy may not be? One suggestion is to keep a stash of extra candy on hand to replace some of the candy from your child’s bag.
Remember the Watson nightmare? Follow these safety tips, and Halloween will be a fun, safe, and happy time for everyone. Use common sense and awareness, and we can rest assured our little monsters will return home safely.
Jeff Wamboldt and Ron Francis are Kenosha Police Department Crime Prevention Officers. To inquire about Neighborhood Watch and other safety programs, contact them at (262) 657-3937, or e-mail [email protected]