Kids enjoy the costumes, candy, and crazy antics associated with Halloween, but it is up to parents to be sure kids stay safe when venturing into the neighborhood to trick-or-treat. It’s especially helpful to review a comprehensive list of safety guidelines prior to celebrating the night’s festivities, because there is more to Halloween safety than merely telling your kids to “watch for cars” and “don’t go to strange houses.” The following safety tips include wise advice from various children’s advocacy groups that will help ensure a safe and happy Halloween for your child:
Halloween Costume Safety Tips
- Choose face paint and makeup whenever possible instead of masks, which can obstruct a child’s vision.
- Prior to trick-or-treating, decorate costumes and bags with reflective tape or stickers and, if possible, choose light colors.
- Make sure that shoes fit well and that costumes are short enough to prevent tripping, entanglement, or contact with flame.
- When shopping for costumes, wigs, and accessories look for and purchase those with a label clearly indicating they are flame resistant.
- If a sword, cane, or stick is a part of your child’s costume, make sure it is not sharp or too long. A child may be easily hurt by these accessories if he stumbles or trips.
- Do not use decorative contact lenses without an eye examination and a prescription from an eye care professional. While the packaging on decorative lenses will often make claims such as “one size fits all,” or “no need to see an eye specialist,” obtaining decorative contact lenses without a prescription is both dangerous and illegal. This can cause pain, inflammation, and serious eye disorders and infections, which may lead to permanent vision loss.
Before Leaving Home
- Consider using a flashlight or glow stick instead of a candle to light your pumpkin. If you do use a candle, a votive candle is safest.
- Candlelit pumpkins should be placed on a sturdy table, away from curtains and other flammable objects, and should never be left unattended.
- To keep homes safe for visiting trick-or-treaters, parents should remove from the porch and front yard anything a child could trip over such as garden hoses, toys, bikes, and lawn decorations.
- Parents should check outdoor lights and replace burned-out bulbs.
- Wet leaves or snow should be swept from sidewalks and steps.
- Restrain pets so they do not inadvertently jump on or bite a trick-or-treater.
Trick-or-Treating Safety Tips
- Cross the street at corners and use traffic signals and crosswalks.
- Carry a cellphone for quick communication, but remember to put electronic devices down and keep heads up and keep looking as you cross the streets.
- Teach children to make eye contact with drivers before crossing in front of them. And, if there are no sidewalks, walk facing traffic as far to the left as possible.
- Have kids carry glow sticks or flashlights to help them see and be seen by drivers.
- A parent or responsible adult should always accompany young children on their neighborhood rounds.
- If your older children are going alone, plan and review the route that is acceptable to you. Agree on a specific time when they should return home.
- Only go to homes with a porch light on and never enter a home or car for a treat.
- Don’t assume the right of way. Motorists may have trouble seeing trick-or-treaters. Just because one car stops, doesn’t mean others will!
- Always walk younger children to the door to receive treats, don’t let children enter a home unless you are with them, and be sure children do not approach any vehicle, occupied or not, unless you are with them.
- Teach children how to call 9-1-1 (or their local emergency number) if they have an emergency or become lost.
- Law enforcement authorities should be notified immediately of any suspicious or unlawful activity.
- Wait until children are home to sort and check treats. Though tampering is rare, a responsible adult should closely examine all treats and throw away any spoiled, unwrapped, or suspicious items.
- Make sure children know your cellphone number, their home telephone number, and address in case you get separated. Consider giving them a cellphone so they can reach you easily.
- Teach children to say “NO!” in a loud voice if someone tries to get them to go somewhere, accept anything other than a treat, or leave with them. Tell them to try everything they can to escape, including yelling, hitting, and kicking.
Sources for this article include: Safe Kids Worldwide, the American Academy of Pediatrics, and the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children