We know kids are excited to dress up and go knocking on doors for some sweet treats, but it’s important to remember things can and will go bump in the night, even on Halloween.
With the help of the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department, Indianapolis Fire Department and Indiana Department of Homeland Security, we’ve put together a list of some things parents should keep in mind before the sun sets on Oct. 31.
Drivers and Pedestrians
Aleatha Henderson, captain and director of public education for the Indianapolis Fire Department, said pedestrian safety is one of the most important things to consider on Halloween, especially with the increased number of pedestrian accidents in Indianapolis this year.
Drivers should enter and exit driveways, alleys and parking lots slowly and carefully and keep an eye out for people walking in crosswalks, driveways, parking lots and sidewalks. Pedestrians should always use traffic signals and crosswalks, look left, right, then left again and make eye contact with the driver before crossing streets.
While a tradition for many, it’s important to keep an eye on children while carving jack-o’-lanterns and never leave sharp objects unattended where children or pets can get to them.
Henderson said parents should consider using LED or battery-powered candles in jack-o’-lanterns instead of candles, especially if they will be easily accessible to children.
However, those who burn candles should keep a close eye on children, Henderson said. Candle fires are the leading cause of reported home fires, which she said add up to about 800 each year.
Porches, Walkways and Decorations
It’s imperative to remove potential hazards from walkways, front porches and yards, such as flowerpots, branches, candles, garden hoses, wired lighting and breakable or sharp decorations.
IMPD recommends keeping front porches, garages or areas where candy is being passed out well lit. Remember to keep doors locked when no one is home (this goes for every day, not just Halloween).
Henderson said to keep open flames away from dry decorations such as pumpkins, hay bales and scarecrows both inside and outside due to their high flammability.
Trick-or-treat is bound to create a lot of commotion, and ensuring excitable pets are restrained and kept away from doors and visitors can reduce the chances of them getting out.
Pets joining in on trick-or-treating should be on a leash or harness and wearing collars with readable ID tags or chipped in case they run off or get loose.
Costumes and Visibility
Properly fitting costumes are not only key to ensuring a child is comfortable but also safe during Halloween. Oversized costumes, shoes, wigs, hats or masks can cause a child to trip and fall or obstruct their vision.
Children should be able to walk, talk, breathe, hear and see comfortably in their costumes. Avoid dark clothing or costumes, and if possible, place reflective tape on costumes or candy bags or have children carry flashlights or glowsticks to increase visibility.
Face paint and makeup should be non-toxic and removed immediately at the end of the night to prevent irritation or allergic reactions, according to The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Young children should have a chaperone. Children should be reminded not to enter the homes or vehicles of strangers while out trick-or-treating, according to IDHS.
Older kids and teens should walk in organized groups or use the buddy system. All trick-or-treaters should stay in well-lit areas and avoid alleys. Anything suspicious should be reported to law enforcement.
Always be aware of surroundings and be able to describe where you are in case of an emergency, Henderson said. This means knowing street names and looking for house numbers.
Candy and Treats
Choking hazards are an increased issue during Halloween, Henderson said. It’s best to have children wait until they get home, and a parent can check candy and treats before allowing them to binge eat their weight in sugar. This not only ensures they don’t eat anything they shouldn’t or are allergic to, but also decreases the chances of choking.
Anything that appears to be unwrapped, rewrapped or homemade should be tossed. For those with food allergies, read every label and avoid candies or treats without labels, carry an epinephrine auto-injector (if prescribed). Parents can find more information about the Teal Pumpkin Project, a non-food Halloween treat initiative started by Food Allergy Research and Education, at foodallergy.org.
The CDC also recommends ensuring medications, vitamins and cough drops are stored properly as curious children might mistake them for candy this time of year.
Henderson said all 44 of the Indianapolis Fire Department stations will have candy for trick-or-treaters on Halloween from 6-8 p.m.
Contact staff writer Chloe McGowan at 317-924-5143 or email@example.com. Follow her on Twitter @chloe_mcgowanxx.