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Wednesday, October 24, 2012

11 Ways to Keep Halloween from Being SCARY as Parents

I love Halloween. I have since I was a kid. I love dressing up in costumes. I love all the scary decorations. I love scary movies. I love the silliness of the whole holiday. Now that I'm a parent it is a lot of fun to see my kids enjoy the holiday as much as I always have. Of course as a parent, there are so many more things to consider. Now that my kids are getting a little older, they've started venturing out on their own more for Trick-or-Treating.  It got me thinking about some safety issues all of us need to consider for the holiday. Here are a few Halloween safety tips to keep your family safe.

  1.  Costumes can be more than just scary to look at.  Check your child's costume to be sure your child has good movement, that they can walk in whatever they are wearing, and be certain that they have a good scope of vision.  Also, if you are using a store-bought costume be careful around any open flames, since most of these costumes are cheap and quite flammable. It’s not a bad idea to go over stop, drop, and roll if your kids are going to any kind of bonfire. The costume should be visible. Black vampire capes are cool and scary, but your child needs to be seen to be safe.
  2.  Make sure you never carry real weapons. It might be tempting to carry or let your kid carry an unloaded  or scary-looking weapon to "complete the look" for his or her costume, but even unloaded guns can be dangerous. If you plan to allow your kid to carry fake guns for their costume, take a few minutes to talk about gun safety. Even a fake gun should not be pointed at anything you do not want to destroy. Act like every gun is loaded, even the fake ones.  This mostly applies to older kids, but use your judgement based on your child’s maturity.
  3. Make sure your child and everyone in your group has a flash light or glow stick. This once again goes to visibility. It is especially important for kids, like mine, who might get anxious and in a hurry and separated from the group.
  4. Emphasize road safety.  In our neighborhood there are a TON of kids. On Halloween night there are kids on bikes and scooters and motorized vehicles, not to mention cars carrying our little goblins to and fro. Halloween is very exciting and fun and THAT along with lots of sugar filled candy can lead to kids forgetting basic safety rules like: STAY on the sidewalk and LOOK both ways before crossing the street. Plus there are plenty of distracted teenagers on the road for Halloween fun as well so BE careful.
  5. And on the subject of drivers...SLOW DOWN if you are behind the wheel. Neighborhoods are bustling on Halloween. if you're driving, keep your distractions to a minimum. There will be all kinds of little ones out who may not be watching out for your car. You need to have your mind and eyes on the road, not the cell phone or radio. Also turn on your headlights early to help increase the visibility of your vehicle
  6. Before you leave the house make sure your children know their FIRST and LAST names, full address and phone number. Don't assume they can call you on their cell phone because you never know if it may get lost. Also, if they get lost, "I live in the brown house with my Mommy and Daddy" is not the best way to get them home.
  7. Make sure your child knows it is OK to say NO to an adult.  It is not rude to runaway from someone if they are feeling bothered or uncomfortable. Make sure they know to yell and attract as much attention as possible if they feel uncomfortable with an adult.
  8. Talk to your kids about the tricks predators use to lure children. These most often include bribes of money, toys, etc., or requests for help, such as help finding a lost pet, or maybe even coming in for the candy that is in the kitchen. Halloween is a night for getting things from people you barely know. There is no point in scaring your children before they go out, but this is a subject that you want to broach, especially if they are being let off the parental leash for the night.
  9. Eat before you go out and accept only wrapped candy. Don't let your kids indulge in any of it until you've had a chance to look it over.  If you make sure your kids have ACTUAL food before they go out, they'll be less tempted to ignore this rule. PLUS, you might end up with a less sugar filled kiddo by the end of the night. We can hope, right?
  10. Practice fire safety.  Don't overload outlets or overuse extension cords. Keep kids away from open flames. Better yet, use battery operated lights instead of candles. It's a great time to practice Stop-Drop-Roll. Make sure exits are clear of decorations and ensure nothing blocks a safe exit in case of emergency.
  11. Make sure your child knows HOW and WHEN to call 911.
Halloween is a time for all kinds of fun.  But it is also great time to talk about safety rules that can keep them safe all year long.  Being prepared and knowing how to react to a situation is one of the best lessons you can teach your kids.We don't want to scare our kids, well.......maybe we want to SCARE them just a LITTLE at Halloween....but we don't want them in situations that could be dangerous.  Following just a few simple rules will keep them out of harm's way.

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