by Wendell Steinhauer and Dominick Marino
Halloween is one of the most exciting nights of the year for a child. Everything that is forbidden—staying up late, parading around the neighborhood in scary costumes, begging for candy from neighbors, and gorging on treats—is expected on Halloween.
But Halloween is also one of the most frightening nights for parents who do all they can to protect their children from things that go bump in the night. Following these tricks and tips can help parents and kids have a safe and enjoyable Halloween.
Use flashlights or battery-powered “candles” to light your Jack-o-lanterns. Make every effort possible to avoid using candles. If you do use candles to decorate your home, never leave them unattended.
Keep even haunted houses safe. Decorate your house and yard using battery-operated lights, not candles. Remind children to locate the exits in residential, community or commercial haunted houses. In case of an emergency, remind children to “Stop, Drop, and Roll” so that if they come in contact with fire, they stop, drop to the ground, and roll to extinguish the flame.
Choose costumes that are flame-resistant or flame-retardant. If you are making your child’s Halloween costume, purchase fabrics that are flame-resistant or flame-retardant.
Take a flashlight along for dark streets. Kids may tell you that it’s part of the spooky charm of Halloween to walk dark streets and prove you’re not afraid, but a flashlight is essential.
Make sure children can’t be tripped by loose costumes and that mask holes are large enough to see through. You’ve toiled for hours to make sure your child’s mummy costume is horrifying. But take a few extra moments to make sure he or she can walk—and see—easily.
Don’t let kids eat candy or fruit until a parent has inspected it. This isn’t just smart from a safety point of view—it also helps ensure parent access to the treats! What child can argue with mom or dad’s tax on Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups?
Stay on the sidewalk and away from traffic as much as possible. One of the greatest dangers on Halloween is the potential for a car accident. With children darting across streets and between houses and harried parents trying to round children into the minivan to make the next stop, it’s too easy for an accident to occur. Remind your children to stay on the sidewalk and look both ways before crossing streets.
Wear bright reflective colors so that cars can see you when it is dark. Your child may argue that Superman never wore bright orange reflectors on his back, but as long as your child can’t fly, then neither can that argument.
Mind your manners. Children also should be reminded to say “Trick or Treat” when they knock – once – on their neighbors’ doors. It is equally important to say thank you and to be appreciative of the treat they are given, even if it is not what the child was hoping to receive.
Halloween can be a fun and frightful night for kids, but working together, parents, teachers, and firefighters can ensure that when Halloween ends, the ghosts and goblins transform safely back into children—until next year.
Download poster (11 x 17 in)
Download poster (8 x 10 in)
Wendell Steinhauer, a mathematics teacher in Riverside, is the elected President of 200,000 teaching staff, support staff, retired, and student members of the New Jersey Education Association.
Dominick Marino is the president of the Professional Firefighters Association of New Jersey, which represents more than 3,500 active and retired professional firefighters and emergency medical personnel.