By Lisa A. Davis
Goblins, witches and ghosts OH MY! Yes, it’s that time of year again when adults and kids alike can be someone or something different and make a grand show of it without getting any sideways looks. Halloween is surely fun, but we all know we have to think about safety first when it comes to trick-or-treating.
Most families still go door-to-door in their neighborhoods in search of the best candy feast of the year. But there are safer alternatives to be on the lookout for such as church events, businesses that offer in-store trick-or-treating, and even some malls. Trunk-or-treat events have become more popular in recent years, too.
With food allergies on the rise, the Food Allergy Research & Education (FARE) launched a national campaign last year that is gaining popularity: The Teal Pumpkin Project. The idea is to raise awareness of food allergies, which can be life-threatening, and allow children affected by them to still participate and enjoy Halloween. The campaign encourages families to offer non-food treats for trick-or-treaters and to paint a pumpkin teal so trick-or-treaters know the house they are approaching is participating. For more information check out: Teal Pumpkin Project
The Food Allergy, Research & Education (FARE) launched the Teal Pumpkin Project in 2014. Photo credit: FARE
No matter what you do, keep safety in mind. We offer these tips from Tampa Police to help guide you:
Safety Tips for Trick-or-Treaters:
- Be part of a group and do not stray from the group. There is safety in numbers.
- Do not enter the home of a stranger.
- Never accept rides from strangers.
- Look both ways before crossing the street and cross when the pedestrian crosswalk light signals you to walk.
- Carry flashlights or glow sticks so you can be easily seen.
- Do not take shortcuts through back yards, parks or alleys.
- Be alert, have fun but do not let your guard down.
Safety Tips for the House:
- Keep a porch light on so trick-or-treaters will know to visit and can see where they are walking.
- Remove yard clutter that trick-or-treaters may trip over.
- Secure your pets to protect them and your visitors.
- Use battery-powered Jack-O-Lanterns instead of ones with candles. If you do use candles, make sure they are far enough out of the way so that kids’ costumes won’t accidentally catch fire.
- Avoid giving homemade treats. Responsible parents do not allow their children to eat treats unless they know who made them.
Safety Tips for Parents:
- Young children should be accompanied by an adult.
- Kids always want to help with pumpkin carving. Small children should not be allowed to use a sharp knife to cut the top or the face. There are many kits available that come with tiny saws that work better than knives and they are also safer, although you can be cut by these small saws as well. It is best to let the kids clean out the pumpkin and draw a face on the front, which you can carve for them.
- Check your child’s candy before they consume it. Anything suspicious should be discarded!
- Feed your children before they set out. This should help discourage them from trying their treats before you are able to check them.
- Know where your child is and whom they are with.
- Buy flame-retardant costumes and consider using makeup rather than masks. A mask may obscure your child’s vision.
- Costumes should be light in color or have reflective tape put on them.
- Costumes should be made from light materials to avoid dehydration and other heat-related issues.
Law enforcement agencies also recommend parents check the Florida Sexual Offenders and Predator database before heading out with your children for treats. To check out your neighborhood and more, go to: Sexual Offender/Predator Search
On the site, you can enter an address and check the area around it. Know before you go!