This month, the witches, zombies, and ghouls will come knocking on your door in celebration of Halloween. Although, as always, the Pinellas County Sheriff's Office will be on the lookout, there are a number of precautions you and your families can take to ensure everyone comes home safely.
As you prepare for the spookiest night of the year, be deliberate with every decision. When you're setting up your haunted house with cotton cobwebs, cardboard tombstones, and plastic spiders, be mindful of your visitors' safety. Establish a clear walkway free of tripping hazards (whether they are leashes and hoses or rubber snakes and eyeballs), and keep flammable materials away from fire. You can avoid fire by lighting your jack-o-lanterns with holiday lights instead of candles.
As important as it is to WOW 'em with your clever ingenuity, costumes should also be sensible: If your children are planning to wear masks, make sure they can see clearly while wearing them. Even if it doesn't fit their characters, ensure your children travel with flashlights so they can see where they're going, and attach reflective tape to their costumes so that vehicles can see them coming.
Always accompany young children as they trick-or-treat, and keep them in your sight at all times. Remember, they might not be the only little zombies running around! If you decide that your children are responsible enough to trick-or-treat without supervision, have a serious conversation to establish who they will walk with, what route they will take, what they should do in an emergency, and what time they should return home.
Whether or not you plan to chaperone this year's trick-or-treating excursion, review basic Halloween do's and don'ts with your children: Cross the street only at crosswalks and corners; don't approach houses that are unlit or appear to be empty; don't enter a stranger's house; and only eat individually wrapped candy - leave the loose treats or baked goods for the ghosts and goblins.
Likewise, instruct Halloween enthusiasts to keep the "tricks" to knock-knock jokes. Vandalism is a serious crime. Talk to your children about proper trick-or-treating behavior and manners, the consequences of their actions, and saying no to peer pressure. We'd hate for his/her jailbird costume to go from fun to functional.
Last but not least: Don't eat too much candy - you'll thank us later!
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