Stay safe while the trick or treaters are out for fun

Kids love Halloween, but adults… maybe not. Seniors who live alone may feel vulnerable opening their doors to strangers. And if you choose not to spend a small fortune on treats, will your house get egged?

Then again, some adults like to decorate their front porches and enjoy seeing the costumes and talking to the children. You might even walk the neighborhood with your grandkids.

Depending on where you live, Halloween can be scary and stressful for seniors, especially those who live alone. If you have mobility problems, getting up and down to answer the door constantly may be taxing on your body. And while we may not want to say so, some teenagers out on Halloween get caught up in mischief and can be more interested in deliberately scaring people — possibly even vandalizing homes — than they are in candy.

Here are some tips from the nation’s safety experts, including police departments, as you decide what to do this Halloween.

Safety while driving

One of the biggest safety concerns on Halloween night is pedestrian/car accidents, says the National Safety Council. If you have to drive on Halloween night, leave yourself plenty of time so you can take extra care pulling in and out of your driveway. If there are children around, ask an adult to watch them as you back out of your driveway.

Kids of all ages get excited and may forget what they’ve learned about safety, so drive with extra caution. Kids (and adults) who are dressed in dark costumes or clothing often don’t realize they can be very hard to see on a dark street. The best policy for you may be to do your driving while it’s still light out and then stay put if you can.

Safety while passing out treats

I enjoy seeing little kids in costumes. I like to speak to each one and tell them how special their costumes are. Of course, with little kids, the parents are almost always very close by. But as the evening wanes, older kids come out. Most are fine, but every group has its bad apples, and a knock on the door later in the evening can be scary. Sometimes even their costumes are menacing.

Here are a few things to remember.

• Keep your porch light on, as well as interior lights. Even if you’ve run out of candy or are tired of answering the door, keep the porch light on for safety.

• Make sure to keep guests outside. Suppose a group of teenagers comes to the door and one asks if he or she can use your bathroom. It’s probably safer to say “No I’m sorry, I can’t allow that.”

• If you’re alone and feel uneasy with someone at the door, don’t hesitate to pretend you’re not alone. I do this myself, calling out to someone in another room, even though there’s no one there. For example, on Halloween I might say: “Max, I told you we’d run out of candy early!” It doesn’t matter what you say or that nobody is there to answer, just give the impression that you are not alone. If in doubt, do it.

• I live in a pretty safe area, but I personally wouldn’t open my door to teenagers even on Halloween unless I had my pepper spray in one hand. But maybe that’s just me. I wouldn’t go as far as to recommend that, but it’s what I do.

• If your front door is not highly visible to your neighbors or your neighbors are not around, use extra caution. People who are up to no-good seek targets where there is low visibility.

Have a friend come over

If you live alone, why not make it a fun night by inviting a friend or a relative you enjoy, and having a casual dinner on the couch? Not only will you have fun yourself, but you’re less likely to be seen as a target. Or ask a neighbor if you could join them at their house to hand out candy. When it’s time to go home, ask someone to walk with you.

Halloween is and should be a fun and family-friendly event. Enjoy it more by sharing it with someone else. If struggling to get to the door in a hurry makes you less safe, ask someone to join you.

Here's a cool Halloween freebie for the grandkids

If you have grandkids, here’s a fun freebie you can print for them on your computer, to send them in an email. It’s a Halloween safety quiz and a coloring page with McGruff the Crime Dog. Even if you don’t use a computer, give this link to them so they can find it: