7 Tips for Safe Trick-or-Treating with Big Kids

By Vernon Trollinger, October 27, 2014, Events & Fun

7 Tips for Safe Trick or Treating with Big Kids

Pumpkin image 11193898516.jpg By keyseeker courtesy of Morguefile.com

Halloween is supposed to be fun. When it comes to trick-or-treating, your big kids should know the drill: which routes are safest, which houses to visit, which houses to stay away from, and more. Still, when it comes to wrangling a horde of giggling, candy-crazed tweens and teenagers on a dark Halloween night, it’s easy to find yourself in an uptight, flustered parent-mode. Your kids, meanwhile, think they’re old enough not to do anything dumb. So, with two perspectives on a collision course, what are you going to do?

It’s always useful to review the ground rules and trick-or-treat safety rules before trick-or-treating with your big kids. This way, everyone knows what to expect, what they can do, and what they can’t do – while you get to maintain some illusion of control.

1) Be Able to See. 

If your kid’s mask won’t let them see, then it’s a bad idea. Wandering around in the dark with poor vision will probably result in:

  • An embarrassing and smelly animal-associated smear on their costume;
  • Painful injury;
  • A grim encounter with a dark skeletal figure carrying a scythe who is NOT in costume;
  • Any combination of the above.

Take a moment to figure out some other way to make the costume work. If there’s time, face paint is an excellent alternative. A last minute work-around is to only put on the mask right before ringing the doorbell.

Costume Tip:
 Costume contact lens are a great effect. However, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) warns that using decorative contact lenses without an eye examination and a prescription from an eye care professional is dangerous and illegal. Poor quality lenses can lead to inflammation, pain, and infections with long lasting effects on vision. In other words, don’t go sticking something unsafe into your eye.

2) Stay Visible.

Most scary halloween costumes are dark. That’s why there’s not a lot of dayglow orange vampires or zombies with bright flashing lights attached to them. Make sure your horde carries flashlights and/or glow sticks and that everyone wears at least one piece of reflective tape visible on their costume.

7 Tips for Safe Trick-or-Treating with Big Kids

What fancy costumes!

3) Avoid the Jack-O-Lanterns. 

Most homes will use small votive candles or electric lights in their pumpkins. A few may use big, fat candles that put out lots of light and enough heat to roast marshmallows. Unless the pumpkin is obviously lit by a light bulb, it’s a good idea to avoid standing too close to it —especially if they’re dressed as the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man.

4) Stay on the Sidewalks. 

More than one kid has sprinted across a yard in the dark to get to the next house only to get bashed in the face by stepping on an up-turned rake left in the grass. Sidewalks are boring, but they’re safer. When walking, make room for other groups to get past your bunch. If there are no sidewalks, walk at the far edge of the roadway facing traffic.

5) Cross Streets ONLY at Street Crossings. 

Remind your kids that dashing across the street in the dark while wearing a dark costume can turn them into a dark, tragic stain on the pavement. Drivers won’t be able to see them easily to stop in time.

6) Stay in Communication. 

Dumb stuff happens. Make sure your big kids have cell phones and they have your number in case any of your group split off or gets separated. This makes finding each other again much, much easier.

7) Inspect the Loot. 

No matter what age you are, the candy always gets inspected before being devoured. Anything odd gets thrown out. My kids always dump their candy bags onto cookie sheets for the once-over, and afterwards trade with each other for their favorites. That way, they get more of what they like and complain less.

3 General Behavioral Tips

Here are a few more things to have your tween and teenagers keep in mind while they’re trick-or-treating. While it always pays to be courteous, it’s also Halloween and anything can happen.

  1. Always let little kids go first. The little ones are nervous as it is, so don’t ruin their fun by pushing them aside or jumping ahead of them. Give them plenty of room. If any of your bunch complain just remind them that, “If a nine-foot tall slobbering monster opens the door, well…” Then sigh and roll your eyes.
  2. Always say “Thank You” no matter how paltry the treat. Complaining in the doorway is totally way-uncool. Remind your bunch that even if it is Halloween, nobody is obligated to give out candy. Besides, there are more houses to try and they don’t have to come back next year. You should also remind them, “The candy of the ungrateful turns into dirty socks during the night.” Then mutter loud enough for them to hear, “Yes… Those yummy peanut butter cups will be all mine.”
  3. Beware the “Trick-or-Treat” Challenge. It’s a sure bet that when older kids go trick or treating, they will run into a wise guy at the door who wants the “trick” before they hand out the “treat”. When this happened to my kids, they all said in a very apologetic tone, “We’re sorry about your car.” As soon as the guy’s eyes bulged in fear, they yelled “Trick or Treat!” again. Unfortunately, after the police arrived, it took fifteen minutes to reassure them that nothing had been done to anybody’s car, and it was just a Halloween trick as per request. A better idea is to have your kids be ready in advance for this by preparing a short, clever tune to sing, instead.

The best way to have a safe Halloween is to be courteous and use your common sense. Check the local start and end times for trick or treating and be aware that some municipalities now have age-limits to under 12. Above all, have fun going out with your big kids and enjoy the evening.

Happy Halloween!

Pumpkin image 11193898516.jpg By keyseeker courtesy of Morguefile.com

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A native of Wyomissing Hills, PA, Vernon Trollinger studied writing and film at the University of Iowa, later earning his MA in writing there as well. Following a decade of digging in CRM archaeology, he now writes about green energy technology, home energy efficiency, DIY projects, the natural gas industry, and the electrical grid.

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