Halloween can be a really fun time of year but it can also be a worrying time for parents. Antisocial behaviour increases at this time of year and there is an increase in the reporting of crimes. Teenagers may attend parties that get out of hand, engage in underage drinking and go trick-or-treating at strangers houses. With bonfires and fires around in the runup to Guy Fawkes night, the risk of injury is also greater and there’s also been a recent campaign to change the law regarding children’s costumes as many of them are highly flammable.
Luckily with a few precautions, Halloween can be fun and safe for the whole family and you can get on with enjoying the scary fun with your kids.
Trick or Treating Safety
When I was a child, it was common to see small groups of young children going from door to door on their own, but this is a rarity these days. As a rule of thumb, children under the age of 12 shouldn’t be out by themselves. Children should only trick-or-treat in groups and not by themselves. Always accompany younger children (don’t let them just go out with older siblings) and it’s best to stick to houses you know, on the streets around your house.
Many people, especially the elderly are afraid of trick-or-treaters so this is another good time to only visit houses you know. Make sure you give older children clear boundaries on the houses they may and may not visit and make sure they understand not to bother people inside the house if they do not open the door or have a “no trick-or-treaters” or “do not disturb” sign outside.
You should know where your children are going and when to expect them back. Give them a mobile phone or change for a pay phone in case of emergencies.
Children should never go inside houses if invited, unless they know the owner well.
Make sure your path is well lit – carry a torch as well as traditional jack-o-lanterns and go for artifical tea lights inside them instead of real candles to avoid the chance of your child’s clothing catching alight. Impress on kids the importance of road safety and always looking before they cross the road. Although there might be lots of people out, it’s important to stay on the pavement and not walk on the roads. You might want to sew some reflective strips on their clothing for extra visibility. Giving your kids glow sticks can be another fun way to make sure they stay visible.
Children are twice as likely to be hit by a car on Halloween as on any other night of the year so if you’re driving, make sure you go slowly and take extra care to look out for kids on the road.
While poisoning of trick-or-treat sweets is extremely rare, you might want to check your child’s haul at the end of the night and remove anything that looks like it has been opened or suspicious. Ask your kids not to eat any of their sweets until they get home.
If you’re really worried by the idea of your kids trick-or-treating or you live in an area where it’s not safe for kids to be out after dark, or near a busy road, you might want to consider holding a halloween party at home instead.
Halloween costume safety
Always check children’s costumes are flame retardant. Claudia Winkleman brought the problem of insufficient safety standards for children’s halloween costumes into the public eye earlier this year when she relived the moment her daughter was badly burned after her costume caught fire.
This improved awareness forced manufacturers to improve costume safety and most of the costumes available in the UK this Halloween are flame retardant. It’s still a good idea to check the item description and label of any costume you’re thinking of buying meets the British nightwear flammability safety standard.
Masks can be a danger at night as they cut down on visibility which makes it dangerous when crossing roads. Consider facepaint instead.
Make sure costumes are not too long or have long trailing pieces, as this can be a trip hazard.