Halloween is a time when kids get to dress-up as a favorite character, gather with friends and roam from house to house collecting as much candy as possible. When I was a child, I can remember starting early and putting in hours of ringing bells till I had shopping bags full of candy. As a parent in Chicago, my wife and I took our son and his friends trick or treating, ever careful that in their excitement, they paid attention to cars while crossing streets, alleys and driveways. Despite all of the media attention that gets focused on razor blades in apples and poison in candy; the greatest danger your children face is from cars and trucks.
Halloween in Chicago should be a fun and safe time for children, if you follow these trick-or-treating safety precautions.
It is important that driver’s in cars can see your child. Sure in an idea world children will cross streets only at cross-walks, only with the light, and after careful attention to traffic- In reality, enthusiasm can win out over judgment. Kids pick their costume based on a TV show, not on what is easiest to see at night. Here are a few tips:
1. Help your child pick a costume that has bright colors, if not then add reflective tape.
2. Every child has some kind of bag to hold their collection of candy- selecting a bright color, adding reflective tape and or flashing LED lights, will greatly improve the ability of driver to see your child.
3. Make sure your child’s vision is not hampered by ill-fitting masks or hats.
4. Give kids flashlights, test to make sure the batteries are fresh. These will not only light their way, it will also make them easier to see.
Beyond visibility, clothing can have other dangers, here are a few things to watch.
1. Make sure that shoes or boots fit properly and that costumes are short enough to prevent tripping, and are free from loose items that can get caught or tangled as they walk.
2. Buy costumes, wigs, hats or other accessories that are clearly marked confirming they are flame resistant.
3. A lot of outfits just are not complete without a sword, cane, or lightsaber and there is no way your child is taking to the streets without a critically defining object, Ok, but make sure it is not too long, too sharp or to solid.. These items can hurt a child if they fall, but can also hurt others if they start swinging them around, while I’m sure all of our children are perfect angels, it is very tempting for a six-year-old carrying a sword to want to act-out scenes from the show.
4. For older kids, make sure to avoid gang-colors or guns that are too realistic.
Despite that fact your child might be dressed like a super hero, if they are under 10 years old they should not be out walking the streets after dark. I know they might want some degree of independence but you must let your better-judgment win out.
1. A parent or other trusted adult should always travel with young children as they make their way through their neighborhood. If they are with a group of friends and you want to give them a bit of space, try staying on the sidewalk and let them walk the path to the door.
2. There is safety in numbers, it’s also probably more fun if they can go trick or treating with a few friends, but keep in mind that one adult can’t watch 12 kids at once.
3. In the unlikely case a child gets separated (It happens) wake sure children know their parent’s cell phone number and how to call 911.
4. Put a name tag, with your phone number, on your children’s costumes
5. When dealing with older kids, clearly they are going to be trick-or-treating on their own; so make sure you know where they’re going when they’ll be coming home, confirm they have a cell phone, its charged, and that they go and stay in a group.
As a driver around the time of Halloween, pay special attention to children, you might not be use to seeing kids out after dark and they might not always show the care they should. As an adult, you need to be extra careful.
The horror stories of razor-blades and poison in food were around when I was a child, in fact stories like that go back to tales of wicked witches and poison apples, without over reacting, it’s wise to inspect candy before it ends up in your child’s mouth. By following these trick-or-treating safety precautions, Halloween in Chicago should be a fun and safe holiday.
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