The Witching Hour
At dusk this evening, respectable upstanding neighborhoods will be transformed into creepy, spooky avenues filled with goblins, monsters, fairies and apparently a fair number of super heroes, judging by the empty slots on the shelves at the Halloween store. My own household will be sending a fairy, a nerd, Captain America, Cat Woman and Darth Vader out into the shadows to collect candy from neighbors and strangers. It’s an odd tradition, if you think about it. While I won’t allow my children to walk door-to-door in my neighborhood soliciting magazine subscriptions for their school fundraiser, I will allow them for some unknown reason loosely defined as tradition, to canvas the same neighborhood for food!
In spite of my misgivings, my children have been looking forward to this day for months. The agonizing choice regarding the desired costume for this year, carving pumpkins, the Halloween dance at school, the Halloween party at youth group, the Halloween parade in town have all been building the anticipation that culminates tonight.
As a parent, I’m always concerned for the safety of my children. There are no end of things to worry about on Mischief Night and Halloween Night.
Children walking on dark streets, with no sidewalks – in dark costumes. A recipe for car vs. child disaster.
Teenagers driving while small children in costumes are darting in and out the streets and sidewalks. Another recipe for car vs. child disaster.
Children knocking on the doors of strangers.
Children accepting unwrapped food from strangers.
Pranks gone wrong.
Teenagers in costumes and masks picking on children without parental supervision.
Bullying behind the convenience of a mask.
Kids however, are often blissfully unaware of the inherent dangers of Halloween night. I vacillate between whether or not this is a good thing. I don’t want my children to live in fear. I want them to enjoy life, even its odd traditions, and have fun with their friends. However, I do want them to be aware, particularly as they get older, of the possibility of danger so that they can take some common sense precautions. Kids are not usually known for common sense. Their thoughts tend to be much more self-centered and less circumspect than adults.
What will my friends think of my costume?
Which houses had the best candy last year?
Which group of friends should I go trick-or-treating with?
This costume is itchy!
Why do mom and dad always insists on going trick-or-treating with me?
Does my hair look ok?
How can I hide some of my candy so mom and dad won’t confiscate it all?
10 Safety Tips for Halloween
As a parent and an insurance agent, I have found that there are ways to compromise – allowing my kiddos to trick-or-treat, but also keeping them safe. Review the rules with them before they go. And always trick-or-treat with your little ones, until they are old enough and trustworthy enough (which may not be the same thing!) to cross the street safely on their own.
1. Always trick-or-treat in a group, or with a parent. Do not wander off by yourself.
2. Have kids keep their cell phones on, and keep the ringer turned up. Tell your kids to check in with you periodically throughout the night.
3. Visibility – use glow sticks, glow necklaces, flashlights and even reflective tape on the back of costumes, to help make sure that your kids are visible to drivers.
4. Stick to the sidewalks whenever possible.
5. Never ever enter a stranger’s home. Even if they invite you into their foyer to get the candy, don’t do it. Say “no thank you” and walk away.
6. If you kids are trick-or-treating with friends, make sure you know what neighborhood and general area they will be in.
7. As a parent, keep your own cell phone on and turned up so that your kids can get in touch with you.
8. Check kids candy when they get home and discard open packages and home-made treats
9. Do not let teenagers drive on Halloween night. Period. Small children in dark costumes will be popping up along streets everywhere – it’s distracting at the very least. It’s disastrous at worst and a car accident involving hitting a child on Halloween isn’t something that most teenagers will EVER recover from. So just keep the keys.
10. If you must drive, drive slowly and be extra alert for pedestrians.
Have a safe, spooky and happy Halloween!