As the days get shorter, children will be engaged in more evening and nighttime activities. Halloween, for example, will see children roaming neighborhoods and attending festivals by the thousands. For parents, the primary goal is to make sure their kids have a good time and make it home safely when the day is done.
Safety in NumbersChildren are safer when they stay in a group. A single child is more vulnerable to predators, and he is also less visible. Interaction between children produces sound and movement which draws more attention to their presence. Having someone to find help in an emergency will also ease your mind as a parent.
Clothing TipsThe number one cause of injuries among children is falling. Wear clothing appropriate for the activity to make evening activities safer for everyone. Avoid ill-fitting shoes, over-long pants or dresses, and baggy clothing of all types. Outfits which can get tangled or snagged are especially dangerous. For additional child safety, wearing light-colored or reflective clothing will increase their visibility.
Lights and ReflectorsHigher visibility means safer evening fun. A flashlight with a wrist strap is easy for small children to keep up with, for example. Glow sticks worn as bracelets or other “fashion” accessories increase personal visibility in a fun way. Equip kids with portable lights to avoid trips and falls, or find their way in unfamiliar terrain. Use short strips of reflective tape spaced along the arms and legs of their clothing.
Stay on the PathThroughout history, the well-beaten path has always been the safest route. Busy sidewalks are often kept in better condition and discourage illegal activity. Familiarize yourself with the how the area looks in the dark. Inspect the area at night before the event. Look for suspicious activity, areas without street lights, and abandoned buildings. Teach children that it is never a good idea to follow a stranger inside or away from their friends.
Emergency ContactIt is common for small kids to carry cellphones today. Keeping an inexpensive pay-as-you-go phone available is excellent for special events. Create a simple “dog-tag” with your name, your child’s name, and your phone number on stiff paper. Fold the paper in half for privacy, thread it with yarn, and wear it for safety. Take a picture of your child before leaving the house to provide positive identification if necessary.
Child safety cannot be understated, and urban legends abound. There has never been a documented case of tampering with candy, but it will always be a possibility. Things we can do as parents are to stay in the loop and provide guidance, preparation, and the tools to make even the darkest night less frightening.
At the Montessori Children's House in Fremont, California, we teach students skills to be safe and have fun all at the same time. As the weather turns cooler and night turns darker faster, be sure you know where your kids are at all times. If you are looking for a student-centered education approach, contact the Montessori Children's House today to learn more about the Montessori Method.