In case you’ve missed the candy displays or don’t have a young person in the house to remind you, allow us to help: Today is Halloween.
When we were younger, this day meant running from door to door with our costumed friends, knocking on doors and screaming, “Trick or treat!” in a quest for bags full of candy.
Like just about everything, though the yearly festival has changed over the years.
Many costumes now include glow-in-the-dark elements or children carry fluorescent toys to help drivers see them in the dark. Some parents bypass trick-or-treating in neighborhoods in favor of experiences around car trunks lined up in church parking lots. Others take their little monsters and princesses to special events in shopping areas or malls where they can keep a closer eye on what’s happening.
Of course, many still send youngsters out on the streets in search of sugary treats — with some parents even driving them to neighborhoods with bigger homes in an effort to get bigger treats.
While Halloween is a time of great excitement for our children, that excitement creates some dangers that can be reduced by taking simple precautions. Here is a common-sense list of safety reminders for all of us to review before children head out later today in search of treats.
Children should always trick or treat with a trusted adult.
■ Always use sidewalks when available.
■ Cross streets using crosswalks or at intersecting streets (corners) and only after you have checked for cars.
■ Costumes and candy bag/containers should have reflective tape or material affixed.
■ Everybody should use a flashlight and glow sticks.
■ Trick or treat only in well-lit areas and neighborhoods.
■ Motorists should slow down and be cautious when driving in residential neighborhoods.
■ Drivers should take extra time at intersections and cross-streets as children may be present.
■ Eat only factory-wrapped treats.
Trick-or-treaters are going to load up on sugar, so the American Academy of Pediatrics offers this advice on how to make Halloween a bit more healthful:
■ A good meal prior to parties and trick-or-treating will discourage youngsters from filling up on Halloween treats.
■ Consider purchasing non-food treats for those who visit your home, such as coloring books or pens and pencils.
■ Wait until children are home to sort and check treats. Though tampering is rare, a responsible adult should closely examine all treats and throw away any spoiled, unwrapped or suspicious items.
The pediatrician group also offers good reminders for the people handing out treats:
■ To keep homes safe for visiting trick-or-treaters, parents should remove from the porch and front yard anything a child could trip over such as garden hoses, toys, bikes and lawn decorations.
■ Parents should check outdoor lights and replace burned-out bulbs.
■ Leaves should be swept from sidewalks and steps.
■ Restrain pets so they do not inadvertently jump on or bite a trick-or-treater.
Tonight is all about children having fun. We can all do our part to make sure the fun doesn’t give way to tragedy. Let’s not have any real nightmares this Halloween.