Neighborhood Halloween Tips
By Renée Cabaup, Comm. Comm.
In just a couple of days, the streets of CHP will be filled with ghosts and gremlins, princesses and pirates, and a wide variety of superheroes and video game characters. Halloween is upon us again, and the quiet streets of our neighborhood will come alive with excitement, smiles, and the happy cries of, “Trick or treat!” For children, Halloween is probably the most anticipated holiday, second only to Christmas! It has everything kids love – dressing up, staying out after dark, and lots and lots of CANDY!
Halloween will be celebrated in CHP on Thursday, October 31st. According to the HOA Board, official trick-or-treat times in the neighborhood are 6:00pm to 9:00pm, however, the smallest trick-or-treaters sometimes start coming out around 5:30pm. On average, the evening wraps up around 8:00 to 8:30pm on weekdays, and closer to 9pm on Friday and Saturday. Residents who are participating in the festivities should have their holiday and porch lights on to welcome little guests. Residents who choose not to participate should keep porch lights off.
Trick-or-treaters come in all ages – while the majorities are elementary and middle school aged, we do have teens that enjoy dressing up and joining in the fun. In the past, some people have questioned whether teens should be participating in the evening’s events. The general opinion of the neighborhood residents is…yes! It gives teens a chance to dress up, hang out with their friends, collect some sweets…and it keeps them from engaging in Halloween night mischief!
Halloween is a fun time for everyone, but because it takes place at night, some safety precautions should be followed to keep everyone safe…
- Make sure kids can see clearly out of masks, or use face make-up (test first to make sure your child is not allergic).
- Check costumes to make sure hems are above the ankles, to prevent tripping.
- Make sure your kids are wearing comfortable, non-skid footwear. To prevent falls and turned ankles, avoid oversized and high-heeled shoes.
- If your child is under the age of 8, use a non-waterproof marker to write your child’s first name, your name, and your phone number on your child’s arm (if they are wearing a long-sleeved costume), or make a tag with the same into and attach it to the inside hem of your child's costume, just in case you get separated. If your child is older, make sure they know your cell or home numbers in case they get lost.
- Help make your child more visible to drivers by attaching reflective tape to costumes and candy bags. Another option is have your child wear glow sticks, or tie them to their bags. Packages of glow stick necklaces, bracelets, and other shapes (magic wands, swords, etc.) can be found at the local Family Dollar stores and last for up to 6 hours.
- Make sure all props are short and flexible and will not cause injury if your child happens to fall on it….or gets into a sword fight with another pirate.
- Not so much ‘safety,’ as ‘learned from experience’ – parents, carry a backpack. As the night goes on, younger kids are known to tire of carrying props, wearing masks, holding heavy candy bags, etc. Having a backpack will save YOU having to hold all the stuff while also trying to hold a flashlight and your kid’s hand.
- Stay on sidewalks or close to the side of the road – never walk down the middle of streets.
- Walk with flashlights so you can be seen at the side of the road, even if you are on the sidewalk. We have good lighting in the neighborhood *except* for the hill on Lost Creek Drive between Gauley Drive and the Grove. This is a dark, wooded area, so make sure you have flashlights to see and be seen.
- Stay off cell phones when walking! Heads up for safety! You cannot watch for cars, other pedestrians, or obstacles on walkways – in the DARK – if your nose is buried in your phone.
- Remind kids when visiting houses to walk on pathways and driveways. Do not walk across lawns as children can trip over support cords from inflatable decorations, ruts in lawns, changes in elevation, and in-ground electrical and water meters.
- Unless you know a particular neighbor well, remind children not to enter any homes to get treats.
- If walking with pets, please keep them on a short leash.
- Always cross streets at intersections – do not step out from between parked carts to cross, as you may not be seen.
- If your tween/teen kids are walking without an adult, make sure they have their cell phones with them (for emergencies) and that they stay in a group – there is always safety in numbers. Work together to plan an acceptable route for the night, and have a specific time they need to be home.
- Remind kids walking without an adult to never accept rides or take candy from people in cars.
- As always, if you see something that seems suspicious, notify the police.
- This is the big night for cautious driving, so *PLEASE* drive slower than you normally would. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports that Halloween is consistently one of the top three days for pedestrian injuries and fatalities, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that children are *four times more likely to be struck by a motor vehicle on Halloween* than any other day of the year. Because excited trick-or-treaters often forget about safety, motorists and parents must be even more alert.
- STAY OFF CELL PHONES!! With kids, adults, and pets walking on both sides of the street, and people crossing – in the DARK - your attention needs to be 100% on the roadways.
- Come to a full stop at the neighborhood stop signs and use caution at all intersections – people may be crossing the streets.
- Use extra caution when pulling in and out of driveways and turning at intersections.
-If you are a new, inexperienced, or nervous driver, this may be a good night to stay off the roads – at least until trick-or-treating is done (usually 9pm).
- Always watch out for children, especially at intersections and near parked cars. Keep in mind that excited kids don’t always think before crossing streets, and may dart out into the roads.
- If you are driving to another part of the neighborhood for trick-or-treating, the HOA Board asks that all cars be parked on only ONE SIDE of each road so traffic flow can be maintained. Also, please do not park on the grass in common areas (including half on the road and half on the grass), do not park in front of fire hydrants, and please do not block driveways.
- The HOA Board and the City of Columbia Police Department would like to remind residents that golf carts cannot be driven after dark, even if equipped with headlights.
- The big question in the neighborhood seems to be, ‘How much candy should I buy?’ It’s hard to say specifically, as some areas get more than a hundred kids and others see only a handful. Usually, areas like The Bluff, Gauley/Welwyn, and any other section where there are lots of highly decorated houses, will get larger crowds. Check with your neighbors, or ask about a specific area on the unofficial CHP Facebook page – folks will be happy to share their previous experiences.
- Prior to Halloween evening, check outdoor lights and replace burned-out bulbs.
- Sweep wet leaves from sidewalks and steps.
- Do not place candlelit pumpkins on a porch or any path where visitors may pass close by. They should never be left unattended. Consider using a flashlight or glow stick instead of a candle to light your pumpkin. If you do use a candle, a votive candle is safest.
- Remove tripping hazards to keep your home safe for visiting trick-or-treaters. Keep the porch and steps clear of anything a child could trip over such as garden hoses, toys, bikes, and lawn decorations.
- Restrain pets so they do not inadvertently jump on or bite a trick-or-treater. If your dog is prone to escaping when you open the front door, consider handing out treats from your porch or a table in your driveway.
- Consider offering non-edible goodies to trick-or-treaters visiting your home. Halloween is one of the trickiest days of the year for children with food allergies. Food Allergy Research & Education's Teal Pumpkin Project, which promotes safe trick-or-treating options for food-allergic children, suggests items such as glow sticks, spider rings, vampire fangs, pencils, bubbles, bouncy balls, finger puppets, whistles, bookmarks, stickers and stencils.
- If you run out of candy, or are done for the evening, simply shut off all porch lights.
- Make sure your child has a good meal prior to trick-or-treating – this will discourage them from diving into the candy right away.
- If you child wants to nibble, bring a snack from home or allow candy only from a trusted neighbor.
- Check all candy prior to letting your child dig in. Throw out anything suspicious, especially candies that have been opened. Only keep home-made treats from trusted neighbors. For more information about checking candy, this website has comprehensive information: https://www.thatfitfam.com/check-kids-halloween-candy/
- To avoid your child overindulging in candy, make a consumption plan prior to trick-or-treating. Allow only so many pieces of candy a day – this will allow your kids to enjoy their booty a longer time.
What To Do With Leftover Candy?
And some more ideas……
Or, you could just eat it. No judgment. ☺
Have a Safe and Happy Halloween!!
CHP HOA monthly meeting – October 28, 2019
National Safety Council
Safe kids Worldwide
Healthy children.org (tips from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP)
AAA Exchange – Halloween Safety
Written and Compiled By
Renée Cabaup, Communications Committee, 2019