Parenting Guru: Boo! Halloween safety tips

Ensure your children's safety this Halloween

I count myself among the parenting pros in terms of Halloween safety. So far I have gone through exactly 21 years of safe Halloween trick-or-treat excursions. Not even one tummy ache, cavity or scraped knee throughout that time. Oh sure, there were screams and ghoulish cackles, but all in all our family's memories of Halloween set the tone for the autumn season and are the prelude to the winter holidays. So what can you do to ensure a safe Halloween?

First, excite your husband for the tour of duty while you relax with a glass of bloody wine with your mommy friends. Really - it's all part of the sinister trick of having a fun and safe time on Halloween night:

Neighborhood Block Party

Form a neighborhood brigade. We are fortunate to live in a true "Trick or Treat" neighborhood comprised of 30 homes with multiple cul-de-sacs. If you are not so fortunate then map out a safe route ahead of time that creates a designated path for you and your children. Don't waste your time going to homes that do not have "welcome lights" on that night.

Proper adult supervision

If you're going with a group of people have the kids and parents meet at a designated home. Announce the rules before heading out including who is responsible for who, the route, and the final meeting place. Each child should be with at least one parent or guardian, no exceptions. You don't want to be responsible for someone else's child's safety on a night like this.

Tots and Tweens

As our children got older it was apparent that they could be responsible and form a group that could go separately from the younger children. Think about forming two groups, one for the older and more responsible children, and one for the young toddlers. It's wise to have at least a couple of adults stick with the older kids.

Bring the right stuff

Each child should be equipped with the following:
  • Flashlight or lantern.
  • Pillow case or strong, sturdy bag to collect the candy (you don't want a broken paper bag or bag with holes that the candy can escape through).
  • A walkie-talkie or cell phone in case someone is separated and cannot find their group.
  • Children under 4 or 5 years of age should be walked door-to-door. They can still get scared at this age and be easily separated from the older kids.
  • Small first aid kit for knees that get scraped in the excitement.

Designated return time

Plan to have either a specific time to return home or a set limit for how long you will be out. Kids can get pretty tired after walking and running through a few neighborhoods. The excitement and anticipation of the day is enough to tire even the scariest of goblins.

Candy Assessment

Part of the fun of Halloween is taking an inventory of the collected candy and trading favorites with friends. Our kids always loved to spread out their stash and exchange what they did not like with ones they did. Tell the kids ahead of time that this is part of the plan - it makes coming home a little easier for the kids. I also used this time to check the candy for any loose and unwrapped candy that looked like it may have been tampered with. I'm happy to say that we never encountered anything unusual. But it is still a good idea to check.

Did you come back with the same kid?

Be sure you have an exact count of how many kids you are walking with, some costumes look similar so make sure you have the same ghost you set out with.

If you're like our family, Halloween is sure to be one of your favorite celebrations. It marks the beginning the change of seasons in our household and kicks off the anticipation of the winter holidays. Trick or treat and have a safe Halloween.

Tina Case is a Yahoo! Shine Parenting Guru. When she's not busy sneaking candy from her children's trick or treat bags she is busy as a professional photographer and freelance writer. You can find more of her work at Tina Case Photography and Parent Grapevine.