Soon parents of children in Catholic elementary schools in Buffalo NY and all around the region will be helping their little pumpkins, movie characters and princesses pick out and create costumes for one of the most exciting nights of the year. That's right, it's trick-or-treating season and before you let those eager hands loose to collect, here are a few things to remember to make sure everyone gets home safe, sound and smiling with their goodies.
Head out during safe hours
Waiting until its pitch-black outside is not the best idea. The best time to head out is just before dusk, right after an early dinner, when you and your children can easily keep track of each other and are able to see the other people you encounter on the trail. Another reason to go early, if you're the first person at the house, you'll have the best choice of treats!
Ditch the Mask
While masks can compliment your child's costume, often they can inhibit vision and/or breathing. Using face paint can be a fun alternative that makes it easier for your child to see where they're going. If a mask definitely has to be included, take extra time to make sure it is fitted properly and snug, has large enough eyeholes to see all around and provides adequate ventilation.
Sometimes it can be tough to get the kids on board, but choosing brightly colored costumes will intrinsically make it easier for others, most importantly drivers, to see your little ones in the dark. If a dark costume is absolutely necessary, you can purchase reflective strips to apply to the clothing. Glow in the dark necklaces, flashlights and glow sticks are also great ways to keep visible.
Patience is a Virtue!
It's understandable that your child will be tempted to snack a bit as they traverse the neighborhood collecting that tasty candy, but make sure your little monsters know that trick or treating is strictly for collecting candy -- NOT eating it. If you're worried about possible snacking, pack a bag with some pieces before they head out so you know everything they consume has been adequately assessed.
Safety in Numbers
Making sure your children have adult supervision at all times is important. Make sure they're carrying some sort of emergency identification such as a phone number, name and address in case they get separated. If they're old enough to head out in a group, schedule a strict curfew for their return. Emphasize that if a stranger offers a ride anywhere, say no and keep moving. Being aware of strangers is important even if they're traveling in numbers.
Stress the importance of trick-or-treating at houses of people your children are familiar with. If there's a stop they don't know, it's okay to ask neighbors if it's safe. If a stop is dark with no festive decor, it's a good sign the residents don't welcome trick-or-treaters. Make sure your kids know to never, ever enter a house. They can access their treat(s) from the porch and if a homeowner keeps asking, instruct them to turn around and head to the next stop.
WNY Catholic schools want all students and families to have a safe, fun and tasty trick-or-treating experience. Happy candy collecting!