Halloween is a day to be scared, but not when it comes to your child’s safety. With an estimated 150 million kids trick-or-treating each year, the potential for an accident abounds. As a parent, your mission is to plan a fun outing for your family while keeping everyone safe. There are tips beyond checking candy for contaminants that you should know about as you prepare for Halloween this year.
One of the biggest threats to your child’s safety is the possibility of being hit by a car while out in the neighborhood. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports that more than twice as many children are hit and killed by motorists between 4:00 and 10:00 pm on Halloween than on any other day during the same time period. It is essential that you carry flashlights or wear reflective clothing to ensure your visibility to drivers.
It’s also important to remind children of common safety procedures, such as crossing in the crosswalk and looking both ways before crossing the street, and to model these safe practices. Don’t let your children run too far ahead of you as the excitement of trick-or-treating with friends can cause kids to get distracted and forget about their surroundings. It’s easy to break the rules, especially if you don’t see a car coming, but an accident can happen in the blink of an eye so better to be safe than sorry and cross at crosswalks.
You likely know your neighborhood like the back of your hand but be aware of any ongoing construction projects on your block and plan your route to avoid holes in the ground, uneven sidewalks, and construction materials. A simple stumble can cause real injury.
Use social media to your advantage to keep track of the latest neighborhood news that may affect your outing. Follow your local newspaper, police department, schools, and politicians on Twitter for the latest on what’s happening in town, from crimes to emergencies as they unfold. You’ll know what areas to avoid and can repost important information for your friends to see.
Issues in your neighborhood may not be isolated to the physical environment; you may need to avoid some neighbors themselves. The Life 360 Sex Offender Search app (free) allows you to find registered sex offenders in your neighborhood. The app provides a picture of the offender, a current address, and charges he was convicted of. Many parents stay on top of this information year-round but it’s especially important to know who’s door your child is knocking on at Halloween.
You are likely to accompany your young children trick-or-treating and can monitor their safety firsthand but many teens go out without parental supervision. It’s important to set ground rules beforehand. Make sure your teen charges her cell phone before she heads out and remind her to leave it on. Some parents have turned to their iPhones to keep track of the family’s whereabouts. Life360 Family Locator (free) allows family members to check in with a current location and message each other via a private chat. You can see your child’s location on a map and know exactly how far from home he is.
Every parent’s worst nightmare is a missing child. The Kids ID app ($3.99 or free LITE version) allows you to create a file for each child, including their current picture and vital statistics. This information can be directly emailed to your police department should your child go missing. There is also a checklist for you to follow in the minutes following your child’s disappearance, which we know is the most critical time.
For children with a serious medical condition, response time to an emergency is crucial to their care. The Emergency Aid app ($1.99) allows you to create a medical profile complete with a picture, notes about current conditions and medications, doctor’s names and contact information, and detailed lists of what to do and what not to do in case of an emergency for those assisting your child. There is also an optional password to protect private information.
In response to the potential hazards a family may face while out in the community, a new Halloween trend has emerged as a safe alternative to traditional trick-or-treating. Trunk-or-treating is popular among many families who want to enjoy time together with their neighbors without trekking around in the dark. Trunk-or-treating is simple: several families park their cars in an empty parking lot as their kids go from car to car to pick up treats. Parents enjoy this option since they are able to better monitor what their children eat and can keep a close eye on them through the course of the night.
Staying on top of your family’s safety can be a tiring job. Whether you’re headed out for an adventurous night of trick-or-treating or staying close to home, it’s important to plan ahead to ensure a night filled only with spooky costumes!