Ensure your children get to November 1st safely with memories to last a lifetime.
By Jackie Saulmon Ramirez | October 15, 2012
“Mischief Night” or “Devil’s Night,” the night before Halloween, some children ages 10 to 18 may take part in playing pranks. These pranks can be relatively harmless like toilet papering trees and bushes, soaping windows and ringing doorbells and running away. Others can be harmful like eggs filled with hair-removing foam, arson, tossed cabbages and cemetery vandalism.
If you are a parent of a teenager or a preteen you will want to have a serious discussion concerning their possible role in Mischief Night pranks and the law. If your child is with a group and gets caught vandalizing a cemetery— even if they did not take part— they will be held just as accountable as the teen who broke headstones. In other words— you will end up paying your portion of the damages, possibly thousands of dollars, add on the costs of attorney’s fees… well, you get the message.
Another risk for children can be unintended injury to themselves. Recent vandalism was to cemetery markers that weighed as much as 2,000 pounds apiece! Picture your child on the wrong side of that headstone as it was pushed over. Perhaps now would be a good time to bring up civic responsibility and proper respect.
Organize Safe Fun for Any Age
The safest option is to have a party organized for a group of friends from school, church, your family or other group. Children from two on up enjoy dressing up, playing pretend and having delicious goodies available to eat. Making decorations they help create gives a sense of pride and ownership. Helping to plan the refreshments and treats served only increases the excitement. Halloween themed games and age appropriate scary movies will provide enough laughs, giggles and squeals for one and all!
- Young children should not carve pumpkins. The youngsters can use a marker to draw a face then have parents cut the actual pumpkin.
- Cover your body with a thick cloth or apron and wear gloves to prevent injuries when cutting with a sharp knife.
- Use a flashlight, glow stick or light-emitting diodes (LED) in place of a candle. If you must use a candle, then a small votive is the best bet.
- Pumpkins with a candle should be placed in a safe, sturdy location away from any high-traffic areas for people or animals
- Feed the children a snack before going so it will be easier to resist the temptation to eat treats before checking them out at home.
- Costumes should not restrict the free movement of feet, legs, arms or hands. Costumes too baggy or too tight could easily tangle or trip kids.
- Costumes should not impair their vision or ability to breathe.
- Makeup is safer than any mask. Test a small amount of makeup a couple of days beforehand to make sure it is safe to use. If there is any swelling, rash or other adverse reaction, discard it.
- Be wary of wearing any contact lenses that were not prescribed by a doctor and packaged by professionals.
- Store-bought costumes and masks should be labeled as fire retardant, fire resistant or fireproof.
- Wigs, hats or headgear should be labeled as flame resistant.
- Props like swords, daggers, laser guns, knives, canes, brooms, etc. should be harmless. Toy guns are a bad idea; realistic gun replicas are even worse.
- A child or their costume should be easily seen by drivers or have reflective materials attached.
- Flashlights, glow sticks, glow bracelets, glow necklaces, reflective tape or LED lights are all helpful for visibility.
- Do not shine a flashlight or laser at vehicles or into the eyes of drivers.
- There is power in numbers! Children should go out in pairs or groups, the more the better. Instruct kids not to stray from the group.
- Children should be supervised by a responsible, trusted adult or older child while trick-or-treating.
- Create a trick-or-treating map or route to follow and make sure another family member has a copy. Make a list of trick-or-treaters’ costumes who will be with the group: Adam-pirate, Barbara-princess, Candis-fairy, Diana-ghost, etc. A group photo would be a help in an emergency situation.
- The chaperone should have a cell phone, a watch and know their location at any given time during the outing. Time will pass quickly but a time limit should be established with children before going out.
- The chaperone should be seen by the person opening the front door. Just like store greeters, standing by sends a clear message.
- Children should only knock or ring the doorbell and never enter a home without a parent’s prior permission.
- Children should only approach homes that are well-lit and/or decorated for Halloween. Do not touch any decorations, especially any lit by candles.
- Do not approach overly cluttered or unsafe driveways, walkways or entrances. Unfamiliar areas could increase the likelihood of tripping or falls.
- Stay on sidewalks or walk on the shoulder of roads. Never run across a street or roadway without looking both ways. Cross only at corners or crosswalks.
- Walk only, no running.
- Keep in mind that it’s harder to judge distances correctly at dusk or after dark.
- Do not use shortcuts or go into isolated areas. Do not cut through backyards or parks.
- Do not enter closed gates; animals could be present.
- Children should never approach people in vehicles unless instructed to do so by a parent. Never accept a ride from a stranger.
- Instruct children that if anyone tries to pull or carry them anywhere to kick and resist while yelling, “Help! Fire! This is not my father/mother.”
- Have children bring all treats home for a closer inspection by adults. Discard any loose or unwrapped treats. Throw out any homemade treats. Examine fruit and discard suspicious items. Be wary of small candies as a choking hazard in households with small children. Better yet, throw out anything not commercially packaged and sealed.
- Say, “Thank you,” to people whether you get a lot of treats or nothing at all.
- Take care with pets to prevent their escape or biting of trick-or-treaters. A dog’s feelings may be hurt if locked in a bedroom for three hours but it will be safe from harm.
- Never invite children into your home.
- Never leave your home unattended on Halloween night.
- Never leave a child to hand out treats unless an adult or responsible teenager is nearby.
- Be especially alert if you must drive on Halloween night.
- Give small items in sealed packages are safe for children with or without allergies and reduces concern by parents: toothbrushes, lip balm, plastic coin holders, noise makers, stickers, pens, pencils, erasers, plastic jewelry, party favors, whistles, balls, puzzles, barrettes, hairpins, combs, toy cars, water color sets, chalks, comic books, crayons and coloring books, travel size shampoos and soaps, plastic figures and animals. Look for dollar stores, discount stores, pharmacies and grocery stores as sources.
There are options to the traditional Halloween celebrations; you can donate candy to our military personnel through the Halloween BuyBack Program and your children can learn about helping others through trick-or-treating for UNICEF. Get more information below:
Parents in my Parents Anonymous group shared a few ideas for you in order to ‘spread the wealth.’ Candy could be donated to a favorite physician’s office for the public candy dish. Local libraries can hand out candy to patrons who return books on time. Candy can be donated to senior citizens’ housing centers. One parent volunteered in a homeless shelter and said they are very grateful for anything they get. Another parent suggested telling kids the Halloween ‘loot’ simply disappeared with a burglar! It truly takes all kinds.
Copyright © 2014 Jackie Saulmon Ramirez. All Rights Reserved.
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