Tips, Tricks & Treats for a Safe Halloween
Halloween is such a fun time of year for families! Kids love the excitement of carving pumpkins, dressing up, trick-or-treating and all of the sweet treats that come along with it. For parents, though, it can be a balancing act between allowing kids to have fun and trying to keep everyone safe. We’ve outlined several tips and tricks to keep everyone safe and happy during Halloween festivities.
Plan costumes that are bright and reflective and make your child easily seen by others. Make sure that shoes, masks and hats fit well and that your child can see while wearing them, and that costumes are short enough to prevent tripping, entanglement or contact with flame.
Look for labels indicating that costumes, masks, wigs and any other accessories are flame resistant. Sometimes accessories that come with costumes, like swords or sticks, can be sharper than you expect. Inspect all accessories to make sure that they don’t pose a risk if your child trips and falls.
Make sure that your child can see while wearing masks or hats to avoid trips and falls or unknowingly walking in front of cars.
- If a costume isn’t bright or reflective, consider adding some reflective tape to the costume or to your child’s trick-or-treat bag.
- Test makeup on a small patch of skin the day before dress up to make sure your child doesn’t have a reaction.
- Do not use decorative contact lenses. Even though the package may say “no need to see an eye specialist,” using decorative contact lenses without a prescription is both dangerous and illegal. It can lead to pain, inflammation and infection which can potentially result in permanent eye damage or vision loss.
Pumpkin Carving Safety
Pumpkin carving is a fun family tradition for most, but kids using sharp knives can certainly pose a risk. Small children should never carve pumpkins. Instead, let your child draw the face that they would like for their jack-o-lantern and an adult can cut it out for them.
A flashlight or a glow stick in place of a candle to light up pumpkins is a safer option. If you do use a candle, a votive candle is safest. Remember that candlelit pumpkins should always be placed on a sturdy table, away from curtains and other flammable objects. Never leave them on a porch or path where visitors may pass close by and never leave them unattended.
Young children shouldn’t trick-or-treat alone; a parent or other responsible adult should always accompany. If your town’s trick-or-treat is at night, adults and children should have flashlights. Never approach a house without a porch light on and never enter a home or a vehicle for a treat.
If older children are going to venture out without an adult, set a specific route for them and give them a specific time to check in and return home. Ensure that they understand the rules for trick-or-treating.
According to Safe Kids Worldwide, kids are more than twice as likely to be hit by a vehicle on Halloween as any other day of the year. To prevent pedestrian injuries, keep these tips in mind:
- Stay in a group
- Remain on well-lit streets
- Always use sidewalks; if no sidewalk is available, walk at the far edge of the roadway facing traffic
- Don’t cut through yards or alleys
- Only cross the street in designated crosswalks – never between parked cars or out of driveways
- Never assume the right of way
- Be aware of your surroundings
- Make sure your costume is easily visible (see tips above)
- Carry your cell phone with you (and make sure older children without an adult have a quick way to communicate) and notify law enforcement of any suspicious or unlawful activity
Have kids wait until they get home to dig into their treats. Though tampering is rare, a responsible adult should sort through and closely examine all treats and dispose of any spoiled, unwrapped or suspicious items.
Trick-or-Treating and Food Allergies
Halloween can be tricky for children with food allergies, but that doesn’t mean that they have to miss out on the fun. Parents must closely examine all treats and candy to avoid a potentially life-threatening reaction. Here are some helpful tips:
- Always read the ingredient label on treats. Many popular Halloween candies contain some of the most common allergens, such as peanuts or tree nuts, milk, egg, soy or wheat.
- If the ingredients aren’t listed, arrange for a treat “exchange” with classmates or friends. Or, bag up the goodies your child can’t eat because of an allergy and leave them with a note asking the “Treat Fairy” to swap them for a prize.
- Be aware that even if they are not listed on the ingredient label, candy is at high risk of containing trace amounts of common allergy triggers, because factories often produce many different products. Also, “fun size” or miniature candies may have different ingredients or be made on different equipment than the regular size candies, meaning that brands your child previously ate without problems could cause a reaction.
- Teach your child to politely turn down home-baked items such as cupcakes and brownies, and never to taste or share another child’s food.
Halloween Safety at Home
To keep homes safe for visiting trick-or-treaters, remove any tripping hazards from the porch, walkways and front yard. Check outdoor lights and replace any burned-out bulbs. Keep pets inside or restrained so they do not inadvertently jump on or bite a trick-or-treater or run away.
Consider offering non-food treats to pass out to trick-or-treaters. Coloring books, crayons or pencils are great options! If you do offer a non-food treat, placing a teal pumpkin on your porch will alert families with food allergies that you have treats that are safe for them.
If you have questions about how to best keep your kids safe during Halloween, discuss your concerns with your child’s pediatrician or primary care provider.
Halloween safety information adapted from American Academy of Pediatrics (2018).