Halloween was different when I was a kid. We went door-to-door in our hometown, visiting neighbors we had known our entire lives. Often, they invited us inside, where we would model our costumes for everyone in the family.
Sometimes we’d get a miniature candy bar, and sometimes we’d get a questionable homemade popcorn ball – but no matter what was dropped in our bags, we’d say thank you and remain respectful.
But today (here comes the “kids these days” speech) you rarely know who is standing outside your door. Many of the children show up without a parent or guardian. And most trick-or-treaters (both children and older individuals) never say “hello” or engage in conversation.
Carloads of strangers often drive from neighborhood to neighborhood in search of candy – usually, it’s just to find a safe place to walk because their own town is not, but you never know.
Halloween can be spooky, and not just because of the costumes. According to data from Travelers Insurance, crime-related claims spike by more than 20% each Halloween – more than any other day of the year.
Here are some tips for keeping yourself (and all the little witches and ghouls!) safe this holiday:
Don’t invite people into your home – Unless you know someone personally (like your nephew, for instance), keep visitors outside. Even opening your front door offers strangers the opportunity to peek in. Consider sitting on your porch for a few hours to hand out candy (if you’re able).
Keep the lights on – In the past, the golden rule used to be, “If you’re handing out candy, turn on the porch light. If you’re not, keep it off.” Now, experts recommend keep on the lights (both internal and external) to deter intruders, regardless of whether you’re passing out treats. Don’t have candy? Put a sign on the door asking people not to ring the bell.
Ask for help – Answering the door again and again, or even sitting on the porch, can be extremely tiring and stressful for older adults. Recruit some assistance in the form of a friend or family to help on the big night! You’ll be happy to have some extra hands refilling bowls and passing out candy bars.
Remove hazards – Lights or not, stairs and sidewalks can be dangerous after dark. Prepare your home in advance by removing loose items from the walkway (yes, even Jack-o-Lanterns!), as they pose a tripping hazard to both you and any visitors. In addition, avoid placing decorations in windows if they block your view of the front porch/walkway.
Don’t play music outside – Festive Halloween tunes like “The Monster Mash” are lots of fun, but all that noise can make it difficult to pay attention to what’s going on around you. Save the music for when you’re back inside the house, devouring your leftover candy alone.
Not going to be in town? – If you’re going to a friend’s house for Halloween, or you’ll be away during the evening, ask a neighbor to keep an eye on your house (and remember – keep the lights on for when you get back!).
The most important rule, of course, is to have fun! Once you’ve taken precautions to help ensure your safety, enjoy yourself. Halloween offers a wonderful opportunity to connect with your community and, frankly, a lot of laughs. I mean . . . have you seen what some of those kids wear these days??