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Halloween is just a few weeks away, but a recent story reminded me of how important it is to be safe as you and your children participate in the festivities. For example, a Massachusetts family with two young children decided to explore a corn maze and got lost. So lost, in fact, that they were forced to call 911 to help them navigate their way out. Luckily, officers quickly found the family within 9 minutes of entering the maze and everyone was uninjured.

Obviously, Halloween night probably has the most potential for mishaps and danger. Your children will naturally want to be part of the trick-or-treating fun, but there are important safety precautions to take to make sure that the kids (young and old alike) and your home stay safe.

For the younger kids, it is definitely important that an adult accompany them while they trick-or-treat. Additionally:

  • Give them flashlights to carry to help light their way.
  • Dress them in costumes that are bright and reflective, fit well, and are short enough to prevent tripping.
  • Instruct children to cross the street at crosswalks only.
  • Inspect Halloween candy before letting your children eat any of it and feed them before they go trick-or-treating to prevent eating while on the go.

For parents dealing with older trick-or-treaters, you’re likely to find that they want to go by themselves now. But it is still important that they not go alone and instead travel with at least one buddy. Also:

  • Have them plan a route that they tell you about in advance, stick to well-lit streets, and only visit homes with an outside light on.
  • Make sure that they have a safe place to go in case of emergency such as a neighbor’s garage or a business.
  • Have them carry a cell phone, flashlight and whistle (to use in case of emergency).
  • Instruct them not to watch for cars backing out of driveways and to look both ways before crossing the street.
  • Only accept treats at the door and never go inside someone’s home.

Your trick-or-treaters aren’t the only important things that need to be kept safe this Halloween. Your home is also a concern:

  • Do not leave candles unattended (including those in Jack-O-Lanterns).
  • Make sure your front walkway is clear of items or debris that could lead to tripping.
  • Keep your pets safe. If they are frightened by the doorbell or the sound of trick-or-treaters, keep them behind closed doors until after the festivities are over. Also, do not let them eat candy–especially chocolate, which can be deadly.

Finally, if you are driving on Halloween night, make sure to drive slowly and be alert. Most of all, have fun and be safe!

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