Pumpkin carving, costume making and ghost hunting are all parts of the joy of Halloween, yet nothing seems to beat the excitement of trick-or-treating. What could be more fun than running down the street with a pillowcase full of candy dressed as your favorite super hero? Kids' main concern is hitting the houses with the biggest, baddest candy bars and filling up their sacks with enough candy to last the entire year.
But there are a few things for parents to be concerned about before their child heads out the door. The Macomb Township Fire Department reports that roughly four times as many children aged 5-14 are critically injured while walking around on Halloween night in comparison to other nights of the year.
Your kids will be in a hurry to get their costume-covered claws onto some candy, so take time with our tips before the big night to ensure a safe and fun Halloween. After all, even super heroes get boo-boos!
1. Goblins have curfews, too
Different cities will have designated trick-or-treat times for children. Only allow kids to participate during these hours and be home by city curfew. This helps homeowners become aware of who is knocking at their door, as well as allowing more kids to be on the streets together promoting safety in numbers.
2. The brighter, the better
Teach your kids to only approach homes that have their porch lights on and look inviting. Never enter a stranger's car or home for a treat, and be sure not to travel in non-lit or abandoned areas. Provide children with a flashlight and reflective tape on their costumes or bags to help increase their visibility.
3. Watching for predators
Oakland County Sheriff Michael Bouchard, suggests that parents check the Michigan sex offenders registry to determine where sex offenders reside in their community. Pictures and addresses are included in the registry. Knowing faces can help prevent an attack on your child. Avoid these addresses on your candy route.
4. Costume fire risks
With the large amount of open-flame pumpkins illuminating front doors and walkways, kids' costumes should be made of fire resistant material and should fit them properly. Baggy or dragging material put your child at a risk for tripping or catching fire. Parents are urged to use electric candles or glow sticks in their own pumpkins.
5. Avoid too-concealing masks
Costumes shouldn't be too restrictive for children. "Outfits (can be) so limited in visibility that they can't see," says Bouchard. Costumes should have holes that allow for adequate peripheral vision and proper respiration: "You want your children to be able to see both ways." Use face paint instead of a mask to ensure proper vision for your child. This will help prevent any careless tumbles or run-ins.
6. Be the candy police
Although your li'l pumpkin may be asking for a sweet treat en route, it's important to take all candy back to the house for proper inspection, first. Any treats that look like they could be punctured, tampered with or have ripped packaging should be discarded. "This goes back years," says Sheriff Wickersham of Macomb County. "It's always a good practice."
7. Stick with your trick-or-treaters
Half the fun of Halloween is hearing your child call out "Trick or Treat!" – or seeing their face light up when they return with their treasures. Enjoying these moments with them also provides the supervision that all kids need at Halloween. Don't ever let your child venture out alone, or even too far out of your sight. If they are going with friends, remind them that staying in a group is the best way to keep them safe.
8. Watch the sharp stuff
"You'll shoot your eye out" isn't just a warning for the Christmas season. Sharp accessories on children's costumes can be harmful if someone takes a fall or if there's an impromptu sword fight with the neighboring Jack Sparrow. Make sure all accessories are soft, flexible and do not have any pointy edges.
9. Beware Devil's Night
"Devil's Night" can be just as dangerous as Halloween and promotes vandalism of neighborhoods.
"The day before (Halloween), there is no reason for teenage kids to be out at night. Try to keep them at home and find an activity to occupy them," says Wickersham. Vandalism is considered a criminal act, so urge your kids to stay indoors. Make sure your own property is well lit, with cars tucked away, to prevent becoming a target.
10. Car caution
"Our biggest problem that we see on Halloween is the pedestrian traffic," Wickersham says. "Vehicle traffic is increased in subdivisions. Keep your kids in sight and make sure they aren't darting out across the street to get to the next house.
"We take a lot of patrol out to make our presence know and to alert drivers that kids are out on the street and to be aware. Make sure that when they are crossing the street, they are doing so in a safe manner."
A few other reminders
According to the American Pediatrics Association, the most common Halloween injuries are burns from flammable costumes, eye injuries from sharp objects, and injuries from collisions with vehicles.
You may think your kids have enough common sense to avoid these things, but amongst the excitement, peer pressure, and sugar highs, judgment can become a bit clouded.
"Even the ones that are too old to be out with mom and dad, remind them: Don't go out with strangers," says officer Stan Muszynski of Shelby Township. We say this all the time, but kids will go. Strangers say, 'Hey, I'll give you a ride for a treat,' and kids will go.
"Don't jump in if you don't know the person."
Keep these tricks in mind and have a safe, fun-filled Halloween with your kids!