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Halloween Safety: Tips for parents and kids

Halloween can be a nerve-wracking time for parents. Many communities offer alternatives to traditional trick-or-treating, but many more do not. Unless you live in a community where you know your neighbours well, allowing your children to go trick-or-treating can be difficult. Depending on the age of your children, there are a number of things you can do to help put your mind at ease.
For parents:

- Masks are not recommended. Try a hypoallergenic, non-toxic make-up kit instead.
- Try to buy or make costumes in a light-coloured material. Otherwise, place strips of reflective tape on the back and front of the costume so that motorists will spot your children.
- Make sure their costume fits properly. Avoid anything they can trip over, such as oversized shoes, heels, long dresses, or capes.
- Always escort younger children. After age 10, most children can be allowed to go without a parent.

If your child is going out on their own:
- Make sure they go out in a group of three or more people.
- Draw a map outlining what route they should follow. Ask them to call you if they plan to go on a street that isn't on the route.
- Give them a flashlight and a cell phone, if you have one.
- Advise your children not to eat anything until they get home. Examine their treats carefully. Get rid of anything without wrappers or looks like it may have been tampered with.

For kids:
- Always travel in groups, preferably with three or more people.
- Stay away from houses that are not well lit. Never go inside a stranger's house.
- Walk on the sidewalk whenever possible. If there's no sidewalk, walk on the side of the road facing traffic.
- Don't criss-cross back and forth across the street. Work your way up one side of the street, and then start on the other.
- Don't eat any of your treats before you get home. Once home, ask your parents look through your treats with you to make sure everything is okay.
- Carry a white bag or pillowcase for your candy, or add some reflective tape.
- Let your parents know where you're going to be at all times.
- Carry a cell phone, in case you need to make an emergency phone call.
- If you have any allergies, tell the person who is giving out the treats.

For homeowners:

- Be sure to remove anything from your yard or porch that a child might trip over.
- Turn on outdoor lights, and replace burnt-out bulbs.
- Sweep wet leaves from your steps and sidewalk.
- If you use candles in your jack-o-lantern, keep it safely away from trick-or-treaters.
- Because some children have food allergies, you may want to consider giving treats other than candy, such as stickers, erasers or yo-yos.

Alternatives to traditional trick-or-treating:
If you'd prefer that your children not go door-to-door, you may want to consider a few of these suggestions.

- Contact a local community centre to see if they offer any Halloween night activities for kids.
- Plan a Halloween night at home with your kids with themed games and movies. Prepare treats especially for the occasion and encourage your kids to invite their friends.
- Some local shopping centres have trick-or-treat nights for young children. This is a great alternative to traditional trick-or-treating since your child still has the experience of going door-to-door in a controlled environment.
- Explore whether other parents in your area would be interested in organizing an annual Halloween party. This is common in rural areas where going door-to-door is not an option. It may be too late for this year, but you can still plan ahead for next year!
Source : CaringForkids.cps.ca

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