Remember the cyanide scare decades ago when seven Chicago residents died after ingesting Tylenol laced with poison? Though the incident happened weeks before Halloween, it was proof that even sealed substances can be tampered with. Chicago residents, and the rest of the country, were in a panic – some neighborhoods prohibited edible treats from being passed out, while another neighborhood banned trick-or-treating altogether.
The fervor has only escalated. Parents have become ever more vigilant as the years have progressed since that big scare, and rumors of more tainted Halloween candy started circulating.
The fact is however, that there’s actually never been a reported case of a child killed or seriously harmed by a stranger poisoning candy. The only two known cases have been traced back to family members using the hoax as a way to fool police officers. Stories of strangers melting razor blades into candy bars or hiding used needles in lollipops are urban legends, too…or have been fodder for fiction books and Halloween ghost stories. Still, we wouldn’t be responsible if we weren’t always trying our best to keep our child safe on Halloween. It’s what we do.
What can I do to protect my kids from sketchy Halloween candy?
What should you be looking for? Most importantly, a mandatory parent check. Don’t let the kids tear into their treats until you’ve thoroughly inspected their loot. Chuck anything that is unsealed, homemade, spoiled, or suspicious looking. Don’t let your kids dig into a stranger’s bucket of unwrapped goods like candy corn, and don’t accept fresh fruit. It’s a drag, we know, as more and more these days we attempt to ensure a more healthy Halloween alternative treat for the kids. To that we say throw a party! Or better yet, suggest that your neighbors throw the party to try and take the focus off the candy.
How can I make sure my kids don’t get hit by a car?
This is the other bigger, and more relevant danger for children on Halloween. It is a fact that more children are struck by cars on Halloween than any other night of the year. Not only that, but two-thirds (2/3) of all highway fatalities at Halloween are alcohol-related. Don’t even think about getting behind the wheel if you’re impaired.
While excited trick-or-treaters may forget the rules of the road and be oblivious to the hazards, we as motorists must be uber vigilant, especially in crowded neighborhoods (like mine, in Brookfield) where kids like to congregate, trick or treat and zig zag across the road from house to house. (Candy strategy). Trick-or-treaters operating on a sugar high are extra amped on Halloween and likely not paying attention to their surroundings. Be especially careful between 4 and 8 p.m., when most severe vehicle/young pedestrian collisions happen. Approximately 85% of deaths among young pedestrians occurred at non-intersection locations such as the ones described above.
Here are 4 tips to keep your little ghouls safe on Halloween:
- Pick a costume wisely. Think about safety when your child is choosing their costume. A dark-colored costume will make a child practically invisible to motorists. A mask could obstruct your kid’s view. And an ill-fitting costume may cause your child to trip and fall. Therefore, have them:
- Glow in the dark! Use flashlights, glow sticks, and/or reflective tape to make your kid as visible to motorists as possible.
- Stick to an assigned route, or at least a familiar one. Halloween is not the time to take shortcuts or test new routes. Instead, stick to neighborhoods you know that are well-lit.
- Obey pedestrian traffic rules…or make up smart ones of your own that kids will follow for fear of whatever. If your neighborhood has sidewalks, tell your kids to stay on the sidewalks. If not, the closest to the curb is the safest. Emphasize that no one should dart into the street !
3. When are my kids old enough to trick-or-treat on their own?
What’s the sweet spot between being too old to trick-or-treat with mom and dad but too young to give up the candy hunt altogether? I remember having this talk…ok argument, with my 8 year old who thought she was MORE than old enough to trick or treat on her own with her pals. Guess what? She wasn’t and mom won. (Surprise!)
From Safe Kids Worldwide to AAA, to local law enforcement agencies, most safety groups consider 12 an appropriate age for kids to begin trick-or-treating without an adult chaperone. The American Academy of Pediatrics is more hard-lined: they argue adult supervision – for all ages – is key to safety. We say know your child, know your neighborhood, and make your judgement calls accordingly.
However, whether or not you think your child is old enough to trick-or-treat without you, no one should trick-or-treat alone. Send the older kids in a group of friends, give them a curfew, and track them with an app such as find my iphone. Take a look at these five safety apps to help keep your kids out of harm’s way. Feel safe giving your kids their independence using a GPS-enabled app that will show you their real-time location. Download the app on your phone – and your child’s mobile device – before Halloween, and eliminate the worry over not knowing where your kid is wandering on Halloween night.
Aaah, technology, sometimes it works in our favor
For more safety tips check this post from the CDC website