Whether you agree with Halloween or not it’s become a fixture in the calendar. A time for dressing up, a time for scary stories and a time to go out and beg the neighbours for sweets – also known as trick-or-treating – and a few additional risks.
The first Halloween hazard you need to keep in mind is costumes. Check that all costumes are safe and don’t let children carry heavy fake weapons – foam swords for your pirate are much safer just in case he or she tries to swash buckle anyone. Make sure that they fit so the children won’t trip over and consider adding some reflective strips so you can all be seen. Any face paint or make up should be suitable for use on children and removed as soon as you get home.
Then not only can that person in a scary mask or underneath a cloak be absolutely anyone, but a child can easily get lost and not be able to find you if you’re one of a hundred witches, and you may not be able to find them easily either. Make sure if you’re going to be costumed while out and about that children know not to go off with anyone else and that you have a safe meeting point if you become separated. Even if it’s just a party in a hall you can designate a specific corner to reduce their anxiety (and yours) if they can’t find you. If you are outside make sure children have your contact details secured to them in case they get lost and that they know who it’s safe to approach for help.
How do we teach children than every other day of the year you can’t just knock on people’s doors and accept sweets from them? The safest way to do this is to organise signals in your neighbourhood which mean the occupiers are okay with trick-or-treaters knocking at their door and teach children than they can only knock when they see them. This also has the advantage of minimising disturbances to people who don’t want to be involved and forcing you to plan your route.
How will you deal with trick or treaters coming to your own door, especially if you’re babysitting? One strategy is to put a bowl out on the step with a sign warning trick-or-treaters that there are children in the bath/asleep but they should help themselves. This will prevent any nasty tricks because, after all, you’ve provided a treat. Just make sure you top up the bowl regularly! If there is a safety chain then make sure you use it if you do open the door and have a curfew in mind.
Finally be careful of any sweets you are given as well-meant treats may contain choking hazards or nuts. If it’s home-made or doesn’t have a wrapper then don’t eat it. You don’t know what it is. Monitor the amount that young children eat - overloading on sweets is the fastest way to turn your Halloween into a real-life horror story!