Five steps to a safe Halloween night

Submitted by Neil Stone’s Karate Academy, Brookline

Halloween is just around the corner, and one of America’s most popular holidays is a hallmark of families and neighborhoods everywhere.

But in an ever-changing world, Oct. 31 brings daunting challenges as much as it does happy times. Increased concerns about safety are justified, because while the holiday is a family ordeal, there are dangers that arise when people are allowed to hide in the shadows.

However, following a few simple guidelines can be enough to make Halloween Night as safe as it is fun.

Only trick-or-treat in areas you know. This doesn’t necessarily mean the houses next door – more often, any well-populated area will do, so long as you and your child know the basic layout and geography. Understanding where the neighborhood begins and ends, as well as having a few familiar faces in the area, can be a valuable asset for parents with young children or kids old enough to go out in groups.

In addition, knowledge of back alleys, big or ill-tempered dogs, or the houses less receptive to visits can help to ensure that there is nothing to worry about.

Go over a plan with your children and anybody else traveling with you. This includes the children of family or friends, as well as their parents. This plan should be brief, but also make sure to include start and end times, ground rules for the night and any special considerations that need to be taken into account.

Also, make sure to pair any children in a large group, telling them each to keep track of and stick with their partner. While there is no substitute for adult supervision, this can go a long way toward creating a backup system rather than one or two chaperones needing to look everywhere at once.

Make sure any older children travel with buddies. While growing up and becoming more independent is essential to any child’s growth and development, it is crucial that even tweens or teenagers aren’t wandering alone.

While commonly used trick-or-treat areas are often well-lit, there are usually at least some areas between patches of homes or streetlights. So, making sure that kids travel with a friend – or better yet, in small groups of three to five – can all but eliminate the risk of traveling not only through these areas, but up to quieter or more secluded houses, as well.

Ensure your child can see and speak through any masks. While many good costumes incorporate or even rely upon the use of masks, it is still crucial that kids are able to interact with the world around them. This doesn’t just concern strangers lurking at the periphery, but also awareness of things such as curbs or tree roots, or nearby cars on the streets.

Not only should a child be able to see what is going on, but kids must be able to effectively communicate without voices being muffled by heavy or tight masks. This is true for those who may fall behind or be separated from their group, or notice a potential danger before anyone else.

Lastly, check any pieces of wrapped, soft candy for breaks in the packaging. As horrible as it is, there have been reports in the past of items such as razor blades and rat poison being put into candy and other goods by anyone ranging from pranksters to criminals. While the threat of this is minimal, it is unfortunately existential, so taking five minutes to check over your child’s candy earnings before they start eating can ultimately be the deciding factor in avoiding a dangerous situation.

Anything inserted inside the package will be betrayed by a breaking of the seal or wrapper around the candy. Any items found with breaks like this should be discarded immediately.

We at Neil Stone’s Karate Academy wish everyone a safe, happy Halloween this year. While danger does exist in any circumstance, the ultimate priority on Halloween night is to have fun, and we hope this year’s holiday turns out to be a great event for all involved.

For more information about Halloween safety or to discuss specific concerns about the night, call 672-8933 or email nska@comcast.net.