On Friday we celebrate Halloween, and there is no real trick to making Halloween a treat for the entire family. The major dangers are not from witches or spirits but rather from not being cautious and prepared. Both children and adults need to think about safety.
Before children start out on their trick-or-treat rounds, parents should make sure that an adult or an older, responsible youth supervises the outing for kids under 12. Teach your children to stop only at houses or apartment buildings that are well lit, and never to enter a stranger’s home. Tell your children not to eat any treat until they return home. Pin a slip of paper with the child’s name; address and phone number inside a pocket in case the youngster gets separated from the group if you will be participating in a large event.
Only fire-retardant materials should be used for costumes, which should be loose so clothes can be worn underneath. Costumes should not be so long that they are a tripping hazard. Falling is the leading cause of unintentional injuries on Halloween.
If children are allowed out after dark, outfits should be made with light-colored materials. Strips of retro-reflective tape should be used to make children visible.
Face design masks can obstruct a child’s vision. Use make-up instead. If masks are worn, they should have nose and mouth openings and large eye holes.
Knives, swords and other accessories should be made from cardboard or flexible materials. Do not allow children to carry sharp objects. Bags or sacks carried by youngsters should be light-colored or trimmed with retro-reflective tape. Carrying flashlights will help children see better and be seen more clearly. If they have a cell phone, make sure that your local police department number is in there, in case they need to call the police.
Give children an early meal before going out. Insist that treats be brought home for inspection before anything is eaten. When in doubt, throw it out.
If you live alone, and someone knocks on your door and you are not comfortable opening it, just say ``sorry, I have no treats.’’ Do not stay quiet or shut off the lights. It is better to have the porch light on so you can see who is there. Having lights on is extremely important just in case someone wants to be mischievous. If you have any concerns, please call your local police.
If you choose not to go out to trick or treat in your neighborhood, there are many places that are sponsoring special events; check with your local police department also check here in the Neighbors section which will probably have other locations for events.
Drivers need to be extra careful in their neighborhoods; drive slow because you never know if a child will dash out in front of you, which is why parents really need to keep a good grip on small children.
And have a save and fun night.
Carmen Caldwell is executive director of Citizens’ Crime Watch of Miami-Dade. Send feedback and news for this column to firstname.lastname@example.org, or call her at 305-470-1670.