Halloween Safety Tips

“Trick or treat!” Every Halloween, neighborhoods across North America resound to this battle cry of miniature goblins and ghouls. Kids and adults alike attend Halloween parties that feature centuries old Halloween traditions such as jack-o-lantern carving and bobbing for apples.

Modern times have brought new Halloween traditions, as Halloween safety has become more of a concern. Halloween parties at home and mall-sponsored trick-or-treating provide safer alternatives to trick-or-treating door-to-door.

Trick or Treat Origins

Halloween traditions come from several sources. It”s generally accepted that Halloween”s earliest form was the Celtic holiday of Samhain, the Celtic New Year.

A giant communal bonfire was lit every Samhain, and people took home embers from the Samhain fire to light their home fires. These embers were carried in hollowed out turnips, forerunners of jack-o-lanterns.

Trick or treat traditions began in medieval times. On All Soul”s Day (October 31st) children went “souling.” People gave the children soul cakes (a bread and currant cake) as they went door to door. In return, the children would say a prayer for the dead relatives of the person who gave them the soul cake, reducing the deceased”s time in Purgatory.

Safe Trick or Treating

Trick-or-treating is one of the most popular Halloween traditions: up to 90 percent of North American children dress up and trick or treat every Halloween.

Many parents are of two minds about trick-or-treating. While parents may have fond memories of their own trick or treat days, Halloween safety issues are also a concern.

If you choose to let your children trick or treat, the following Halloween safety tips are recommended:

  • Adults should escort trick or treaters (hey, you can dress up too!)
  • Know the route children will take while trick-or-treating
  • Choose bright colored costumes so drivers can see children
  • No-one (adults included!) eats treats until they have been checked
  • Provide alternatives to trick-or-treating.

A word on homemade treats: Rather than give candy, some people prefer to give healthy Halloween treats. Instead they may offer boxes of raisins or homemade baked goods as healthy alternatives to classic Halloween treats. While doling out a treat that has taken time and energy is a nice gesture, for safety purposes, none of them should be eaten. You never know what has been put in a treat baked by a stranger and it is best not to take risks.

Alternatives

Because Halloween safety is such an issue, many parents are looking for new Halloween traditions and alternatives to trick-or-treating. Shopping malls often hold Halloween events, allowing children to trick or treat from store to store. Some malls also host kids” Halloween parties or set up haunted houses.

Halloween safety and supervising children in a well-lit mall is easier than in a darkened street, although an adult should still accompany a group of children to enforce the “no treat until checked” Halloween safety rule.

Going to Halloween Parties

Churches, community centers, and children”s organizations often host Halloween parties as safe alternatives to trick-or-treating. Such parties often welcome the whole family and offer Halloween games and activities.

You can also host your own kids” Halloween parties, or organize one with other parents. If you need some ideas for party food, or want some healthy Halloween treats, pick up one of the Halloween recipe books that show up in the check out lines in October: they often include some inventive and healthy food ideas to celebrate Halloween.

Kids” Halloween parties can quickly become part of your family”s Halloween traditions. Activities for Halloween parties can include:

  • pumpkin carving (with adult supervision)
  • pumpkin painting (if guests are too young to carve pumpkins)
  • “mummy wrap” (use toilet paper to turn someone into a mummy)
  • apple bobbing (have towels handy)
  • age-appropriate Halloween movies
  • ghost stories
  • “trick or treat” treasure hunts

Alternative to trick-or-treating can require some time and preparation, but the results can be memorable and start a new family tradition.