Trick-or-treating is the perfect way to make magical memories with your children on Halloween. But it's not all fun and games—you also want to keep your kids safe.
In Groton, there are no specific restrictions about trick-or-treating, but Groton Sgt. Kelly Crandall says it's a good idea to have the kids out as soon as it gets dark, and get them in by about 8:30 p.m.
"We hope that people will use their best judgement and not keep the kids out too late," she said. "We tell the parents to dress their kids in bright clothing, have a flashlight, (and) always have an adult with them."
She said a lot of kids will wear masks that make it difficult for them to see, so if the eye holes are a little small, it doesn't hurt to cut them a little bigger.
She added that she tells children never to go inside a house they don't know. "If somebody says, 'My candy's in the back', don't go into it," she said.
Older children - those ages 13 and 14 - should trick-or-treat in groups, she said.
Mom Kim Estes makes it her mission to help parents keep their kids out of harm's way all year round. Estes, a certified child safety educator and sexual abuse prevention specialist, founded Savvy Parents, Safe Kids to teach parents strategies for how to be prepared and protect their children as much as possible.
Estes said parents should make sure that costumes are safe from hazards this Halloween by making a few easy modifications.
“Make sure their costumes are not too long and causing a tripping hazard, and that swords or knives are made of soft, pliable plastic because they will have a sword or knife fight with the neighbor kids," she said.
"I am a huge fan of reflective tape and glow-in-the-dark spray paint. Both can be purchased on sites like Amazon.com. Use the tape on the costume and use the spray paint in the street to say ‘SLOW!’ or ‘BEWARE: TRICK-OR-TREATERS.’ It goes on clear when painted and does not last long in wet weather.”
Estes said that when trick-or-treating, kids should only approach well-lit homes and should not enter any house unless accompanied by an adult that they know. They should also figure out their route ahead of time and stick to it and use the buddy system. Young children should always be accompanied by an adult, she added.
“Remind kids to be alert for vehicles, stay on the sidewalk whenever possible and look both ways before crossing,” Estes said. Older kids and teenagers should also head out with a buddy and be smart about safety, she said.
Halloween decorations can become fire hazards if used without care, Estes warned.
“Use battery-operated 'candles' in pumpkins on Halloween night. Children are not paying attention and crowd together at the front door and costumes can easily be brushed up against open flames,” she said.
Trick-or-treating with the family dog or cat can be fun, but families should take precautions, she said.
“Adults should also be careful when taking pets along when trick-or-treating, or having pets at the door when trick-or-treaters arrive. Masks and other costumes can be frightening to pets and can cause them to act aggressively if frightened," she said. "If you are unsure, test your pet's comfort level by trying on a mask and see how they respond.”
Estes recommends Wag-N-Train’s website for more Halloween safety tips for kids and pets. There are also pointers for how to stay safe and sane during the post-Halloween holidays.
Once you have a hazard-free costume put together and have reviewed safety rules with your children, it’s time to have some Halloween fun!
TELL US: Where will you be taking your children trick-or-treating? Do you have any safety tips that apply to your community? Share in the comments below.