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October 25, 2015

Neighborhood Safety Tips Keep Your Halloween Fun!

It’s time to gather your neighbors together and plan for a safe and enjoyable Halloween!  If your community participates in trick-or-treating after nightfall, it can be great fun for the neighborhood children if everyone is cautious and alert. Fire safety is one of the keys to successful evening outings. Keep all lit jack-o-lanterns away from pathways, stairs or doorways, where they can be accidentally kicked, or where long, flowy details on costumes can catch fire. Check your pumpkins regularly to make sure they are burning safely, or use an LED light instead of a candle. Luminaries lining your walkways look beautiful, but be sure choose LED candles for your sidewalk decorations instead of live flame. Make sure all children are escorted on their rounds. Plan to have one adult man the home for trick-or-treaters while another takes out the kids, or team up with other parents on your street to form larger groups of traveling children. If you have responsible teens in your family, enlist their help. Oftentimes an older child still loves to dress up and have fun on Halloween, and “having to take the little kids around” is a way for them to enjoy the holiday while keeping their reputations with their friends as “someone cool”. It doesn’t hurt that some families will offer a “treat” to a costumed escort, either! Each child should wear neon glow jewelry, carry a Cylume light stick or take along a flashlight. You can also add strips of reflective tape to costumes to make them more visible. Make sure that all costumes are short enough to allow for easy walking and don’t obscure a child’s vision or make it difficult for them to use their hands properly. Sidewalks should always be used, and children should not be allowed to walk along the side of the road or through yards, where it may be difficult to see holes or uneven terrain. Cross streets only at corners or in crosswalks, and never allow children to run. If you have a neighborhood watch group, make sure that there are several willing participants available to patrol the neighborhood to discourage misbehavior and monitor safety. Put the word out early via your homeowner’s association and the community grapevine that speed limits will be strictly enforced. If you are driving on Halloween night, be sure to exercise more caution than usual. Only take children to houses occupied by people you are familiar with, and only allow them to trick-or-treat at a home with a welcoming light on. Encourage all participating households to distribute their treats on a porch or in the yard, so that children don’t have to enter homes to collect their goodies. Strongly discourage children from entering anyone’s home, unless they are very familiar with the family and are accompanied at all times by an adult. Children should not eat treats as they go – all treats should be commercially wrapped and inspected by parents before being eaten. Keep your pets out of harm’s way on Halloween – dogs should be on leashes or kept in a safe room at all times. Small children may be afraid of dogs and children of any age may be tempted to try and pet shy, skittish or unfriendly animals. It’s best not to add them to the holiday mix. Set a community curfew. Decide on a window of opportunity for trick-or-treating; for example, 6pm to 8pm. It will be easier to maintain safety standards if everyone knows when the event will begin and end. It is also a good idea to set a route for your group ahead of time, and stick to it. This way each band of travelers has someone who knows where the members of each group should be at any given time. Be sure that at least one member of every group has a fully-charged cell phone available at all times. While many of these handy tips may seem like common sense, it is so easy to get caught up in the mystery and excitement of Halloween and forget that it’s a special night that needs more attention to safety and security. With a little thought and planning, your community can make Halloween a safer experience for everyone!

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