If someone were commissioned to paint a picture of Halloween bliss, it would probably showcase a neighborhood full of children ringing doorbells and gathering treats. Millions of children and adults participate in the annual ritual of trick-or-treating. For urban and suburban children, close-by neighbors make it quite easy to fill up sacks of candy. However, people who live in rural areas — where homes may be miles away from one another — may find that traditional trick-or-treating poses a challenge. For kids who live by farmland or off country roads, trick-or-treating may not be a stroll through a well-lit area with sidewalks and welcoming neighbors with open doors. Such youngsters may have to traverse dark roads and dodge motorists who do not expect people to be walking on the shoulder.
So what is a rural kid, or any child whose resides in an area that is not conducive to trick-or-treating, to do?
• Hit the road. Plan a road trip to a neighborhood where trick-or-treating is encouraged in full force and is safe and inviting. Friends or family members may live in such neighborhoods and can host “out-of-town” trick-or-treaters. Others who are choosing a town off a map may want to try an app called Nextdoor. It is a free and private social media site for neighbors that employs a Treat Map. Halloween fans can see exactly which houses are trick-or-treat friendly. In 2014, Zillow issued a list of the 20 best neighborhoods for trick-or-treating as well.
• Head to a shopping center. While it may not be the same as going door-to-door, rural residents can trick-or-treat at nearby shopping centers. Many shopping centers and malls host area children and dispense treats.
• Organize a trunk-or-treat. Trunk-or-treat events involve various participants parking in a community lot and opening their trunks or truck hatches to crowds of trick-or-treaters. Often these events are hosted by churches, schools or organized clubs.
Trick-or-treating can be challenging for kids growing up in rural areas. But with a little ingenuity, such youngsters can secure their Halloween bounty as well.
Thousands of costume-clad children will embark on treat-finding missions in neighborhoods all across the country this Halloween. Everyone wants their Halloween festivities to be fun, but it is important that trick-or-treaters and their chaperones prioritize safety as well.
The child welfare organization Safe Kids says that twice as many child pedestrians are killed while walking on Halloween compared to other days of the year. In addition, the National Safety Council states that darting out or running into the road accounts for about 70 percent of pedestrian deaths or injuries among children between the ages of five and nine and about 47 percent of incidents for kids between the ages of 10 and 14.
Ensuring trick-or-treating youngsters are visible to motorists can make Halloween safer for everyone involved. The American Academy of Pediatrics and other safety groups suggest the following strategies for safe trick-or-treating.
· Supervise the festivities. Adults should chaperone young trick-or-treaters who are unlikely to be focused on safety in the midst of Halloween excitement.
· Use reflective tape or LED lights. Dark costumes coupled with twilight can make it difficult for motorists to see trick-or-treating youngsters. Parents can improve the chances of their kids being seen by motorists by adhering reflective tape onto kids’ costumes. Glow sticks and wearable LED lights also can illuminate trick-or-treaters.
· Carry lanterns or flashlights. Children and/or chaperones who carry flashlights and lanterns can improve their own visibility while also making themselves more visible to motorists. Lanterns and flashlights help trick-or-treaters avoid holes, cracked pavement and other obstacles. For those children who want to free up their hands for better treat gathering, lights that strap to the head are an option.
· Keep the lights on. Homeowners can do their part by keeping outdoor flood lights and accent lighting on to make paths safer for youngsters on the prowl for Halloween candy.
· Choose face makeup over masks. Children wearing masks may not spot oncoming cars or other hazards. Face makeup won’t affect kids’ visibility but will still help them look scary.
With the right combination of caution and fun, Halloween can be an enjoyable time for youngsters and adults.