Keep your Horror Harmless
So here we are again, All Hallows Eve! Another chance to dust off skeleton/zombie/vampire outfits, ramp up our sugar intake and perhaps enjoy a decent (or not so decent) horror film or two.
Considering its roots, Halloween has seen something of an odd evolution. It was conceived as a Christian day of preparation before All Saints’ Day where prayers and fasting would take place, itself thought to be rooted in an adapted ancient Celt festival Samhain heralding the end of summer. Something likely done to accelerate absorption of pagan practices into the faith.
Various morbid myths and legends feed into the development of Halloween with much of it being difficult to clearly track; Irish and Italian beggars were thought to offer prayers to the dead in exchange for gifts of food. Elsewhere, Jack-O-Lanterns are thought to originate from the tale of an Irish man – ‘Stingy Jack’ – tricking the devil and being cursed to travel the world with only a candle in a hollowed-out turnip lighting the way; a detail exchanged for a pumpkin in America, presumably due to the plant’s availability.
It’s only in comparatively recent history that the occasion took the form we are largely familiar with today. The trick-or-treat tradition appears to first manifest in early 20th century America, followed by the UK in the 1980s – perhaps due to the popularity of Halloween themed movies and culture crossing the Atlantic.
Perhaps the element of morbidity and echoes of the supernatural have always been innate in the day thanks to its timing as darker nights and Autumnal cold sets in. Regardless, today it holds a certain controversial edge. As such some horror is an integral part of the premise, but for most it’s the playful, sillier kind.
To keep your horror harmless here are SHEilds’ top 10 tips for Halloween Safety.
A few basic precautions
Children in particular are often keen on enjoying Halloween activities as an opportunity to dress up and get hold of more sweets. This shouldn’t be a cause for alarm, but a few basic precautions and warnings are recommended regardless:
- Don’t face the night alone – While leniency may vary depending on your location and other factors typically children under 12 shouldn’t be out on Halloween night without an adult accompanying. Older children may want to go out alone, but should stay within a familiar area and travel in larger groups for increased safety.
- Road awareness still applies for witches and wizards – The combination of darker trick-or-treating hours and prominently dark outfits may be ghoulishly compelling, but they make people harder to spot for drivers. Make sure you increase the care with which you approach roads and check that drivers have seen you before crossing.
- Terrifying, spooky, practical – We all like to get creative with our Halloween costuming, just make sure you consider practical aspects. Try breaking up dark materials with reflective strips for added visibility and ensure your capes aren’t trailing underfoot creating trip hazards. You may also wish to opt for face paint over masks so vision isn’t inhibited.
- Illumination spells safety – Complimenting your Halloween group with a torch is always a smart idea, both to light the way and in the event of an emergency.
- Beware of creatures on the roads! – If you are driving at night on Halloween be mindful of trick-or-treaters. Take extra care with blind spots and consider reducing your speed a little more to give yourself time to react to people stepping out unexpectedly.
- Beware the stranger! – When visiting homes to trick-or-treat be mindful that not everyone may be welcoming or even interested in acknowledging Halloween. To avoid unpleasantries stick to houses with well-lit fronts and/or blinds open as they are likely to be more in the spirit of things. Close friends and family are particularly ideal!
- Beware the fires! – Jack-O-Lanterns and candles certainly contribute to the Halloween atmosphere, just remember that they still present a fire hazard under the wrong circumstances. Mind trailing costumes around open flames and to be extra safe ensure all your costumes are fire resistant by checking the labelling!
- Treats not tricks – When collecting sweets and treats on your Halloween rounds, for extra safety stick to the factory wrapped variety. Unless you know the person you’re visiting, politely refusing homemade treats is preferable for personal safety.
- Pumpkin precautions – If you’re carving a Jack-O-Lantern for a competition or home decoration be wary of who handles the knives. With young children it’s better to let them draw their designs on and leave the actual carving to responsible older children or adults. You may also wish to substitute your candle with a glow stick or battery light to rule out fire risks, but if you must use a candle make sure it doesn’t burn unattended, set them up outside and keep a bucket of water nearby for emergencies.
- Sugar, sugar everywhere – but perhaps consider breaking up your family’s intake with a few healthier alternatives. Perhaps introduce some fruits and savoury goods or activities and games that involve non-edible rewards such as books, pens and stickers.
With all that said and done, SHEilds wishes you all a spectacular, spooky Halloween!