Tech can aid in Halloween safety

Published 8:45 pm Tuesday, October 27, 2015


This weekend, Halloween will be in full swing and kids of all ages will hit the streets in search of candy, attend Halloween costume parties and many other festivities.

While Halloween is a time for excitement, thrills and frightening subject matter, Halloween can also be a dangerous time for kids and teens, especially. Some parents may feel anxious about the occasion, but with today’s technology, parents and their children can stay connected through tools and apps that can ensure Halloween is a fun and safe experience.

According to a recent survey by U.S. Cellular, nearly half — 47 percent — of parents have a child with a cellphone. The average age children receive their first cellphone is 12.

With more mobile device usage among parents and children, there are more ways to be proactive about safety and protecting oneself from potentially harmful situations. Among the basic methods of staying in touch and alert are: setting up alarms on a child’s phone for periodic reminders to check in; program phone numbers into phones as In Case of Emergency (ICE); and taking advantage of the flashlight function for visibility in dark, unlit places.

Parents can also use apps to monitor their child more closely. For example, the Family Locator app allows parents to keep tabs on family members who are trick-or-treating, and see kids’ locations in real time, as well as get notifications when they reach a predetermined destination.

In case of emergency, parents can ensure they’re reachable at a moment’s notice with the Red Panic Button app. A press of a button sends a SMS (short message service) and email containing a link to Google Maps and their GPS coordinates to everyone in the panic contact list.

A fun app that could be interesting for children and parents to use during Halloween is the Ghost Radar app. It alerts users to possible paranormal activity in the vicinity by taking various readings on a device and includes a voice to announce when interesting words have been detected. More or less, the app is meant for entertainment purposes.

Despite the benefits of using technology to safeguard one’s Halloween experience, there are many other basic guidelines to live by on Halloween. According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), tips for Halloween safety include: fastening reflective tape to costumes and bags to alert drivers to one’s presence; examining all candy and treats for choking hazards and tampering before eating them; carrying a flashlight while trick-or-treating to ensure visibility for drivers; looking both ways before crossing streets; walking only on sidewalks whenever possible, or on the edge of the road, facing traffic; wearing well-fitting masks, costumes and shoes to avoid blocked vision, trips and falls; eating only factory-wrapped treats and being cautious when given a homemade treat; not entering a home unless accompanied by a trusted adult; only visiting well-lit houses; never accepting rides from strangers; walking in groups when going from house to house or to a party; and keeping safety in mind before making a decision to do anything.

Halloween is meant to be a fun and exciting time to dress up and socialize with friends and family. To ensure maximum enjoyment of the occasion, take advantage of available options to keep one’s self, friends and family safe.