Halloween safety tips and fun memories
By Robin Scott
Halloween is a time for trick-or-treating, costume parties, braving haunted houses and carving jack-o-lanterns. With all of the fun it is easy to forget the importance of incorporating safety in the festivities. Keeping safe adds to the fun. Here are some safety tips, mixed in with a little fun memories from area residents.
For years trick-or-treaters and their parents have been warned to only eat candy that is individually wrapped, avoid homemade treats that are given by strangers and never eat opened candy. But what happens if kids begin to eat their candy as they walk along and collect it? One mom’s technique to keep her kids from gobbling up the goodies is sure to work. Nathan Thompson stated of his mother, “My mom was pretty smart about making sure that my brothers, sister and I didn’t eat all of our Halloween candy before we got home from trick-or-treating. Every year she would make oatmeal for dinner on Halloween and spoon out extra large portions for each of us. We weren’t allowed to head out the door to trick-or-treat until every single bite was gone. It was agony, but it sure did work!”
Having fun on Halloween wouldn’t be complete without a costume. Not only do kids enjoy dressing up, but family and neighbors get a huge kick out of seeing little Superman, a fairy princess and a dragon or two. Costumes often have accessory parts that parents should inspect for safety. The swashbuckler’s sword should be short and flexible, the pirate’s knife should not have a sharp point and the puppy dog’s tail shouldn’t touch the ground. Julinda Reynolds fondly recalled, “We love seeing our kids all dressed up in their costumes and seeing almost everyone in town out and about.” Make sure that costumes don’t present a hazard to the child, so that the costume only brings fun and not some unexpected accident.
Since Halloween falls at the cusp of October and November, the weather can be a bit tricky. It may be rainy, snowy or even hot. Dressing for the weather may change the effect a costume has, but is a necessary part of getting ready to go out trick-or-treating. Parents should make sure that children are clothed appropriately for the weather conditions. Jamie Heiskell reminisced, “I remember when I was a kid it would always snow on Halloween! You would never know who was dressed up as what because we all had on our big winter coats!” Keeping warm in cold weather far outways the need to show off a costume, even if it means having to wear a coat over the costume.
When children and parents go trick-or-treating they should carry flashlights so that others may see them in the dark, wear some reflective clothing or reflective strip on their costume or coat, take off face masks when walking to avoid tripping over something unseen, keep costumes short enough so as not to trip over them, always remain in a group of people or with an adult who acts as a supervisor for a group of children, keep the candy in the bag or bucket until a parent or other adult may inspect it, use good manners when visiting friends and neighbors, don’t actually “trick” anyone who doesn’t give out candy, and stay away from darkened homes. Many people turn out their porch lights so that trick-or-treaters know that no candy will be given out; likewise, trick-or-treaters should only approach homes that have a porch light on or other lighting that clearly lights a pathway from the street to the front door.
Finally, even in a small town where it seems that everyone knows everyone, it is important not to go inside anyone’s house other than friends and family. Stay outside on the porch and wait for the homeowner to come outside to give out candy. Tim Vanderburg noted, “I have fond memories of going up to a door, and this lady handing out full-size candy bars using her cat’s paw to distribute them. She’d say, ‘And Charlie gives YOU one ... and Charlie gives YOU one ...’ Envision the voice of the woman who Steve Martin loses it with at the rental car counter in ‘Planes Trains & Automobiles.’” Have fun, but avoid stange situations, especially if they cause discomfort or a sense of a threat.
Hallween should be great fun for everyone, whether it involves trick-or-treating or attending an area party. Following a few safety tips should make it even more pleasurable. And as Kaylee Ledbetter excitedly stated, “Yay, Halloween is COMING!” Have a wonderful time!