Child safety is always foremost in a parent’s mind. Myriad opportunities—planned or not—daily threaten to harm a child from something as small as a finger cut to things much worse.
Thrown into the mix of potentially harmful things Halloween. The annual event is eagerly anticipated and can be fun and rewarding for both children and adults.
However, think of an event held outdoors, after dark with strangers, in uncertain places and potentially unpredictable situations, where death, horror, and gore are dominant entertainment themes. That description isn’t one that lessens parents’ anxieties for their children’s safety.
But, the description also points out why parents need to be prepared for trick or treating, both for their own children’s safety as they go out as well as for the safety of those who visit.
The American Academy of Pediatrics says a few practical tips will help ensure your children have a safe and enjoyable Halloween while trick or treating.
Start with the costume to ensure your child is safe while going door-to-door.
- Check the clothing: Bright and reflective costumes provide greater visibility. Shoes should fit well to prevent tripping. Hats should fit properly and not slide over eyes.
- Check the candy bag: Besides adding reflective material to make them stand out, make the bag visible, too.
- Check the mask: Actually, using non-toxic makeup could be better than a mask because masks can block or limit eyesight.
- Check your props: Swords, canes, stick and other accessories should be sharp or so long your child trips over it or gets it tangled in porch decorations, small trees, and other obstacles.
- Check for fire safety: Buy costumes with labels stating the outfit is fire resistant. Remember, candles and small fires are often part of Halloween porch props and decorations.
- Check the flashlights: Make sure batteries are new. Have extra pairs in case you’re out longer than you expected.
Next, review the rules of engagements.
- Visit only houses with lit porch lights, which indicate a Halloween host home.
- Do not go inside a house or car for treats.
- Stay with a group or an adult chaperone.
- Have cell phones accessible.
- Don’t cut across yards. It’s not only impolite, there may be unknown obstacles lying in the dark.
- Stay on well lit areas, on sidewalks (if available), and out of the road (unless it’s necessary to walk on the edge because there are no sidewalks).
Prepare before and after trick-or-treating.
- A good meal before going out discourages children from filling up on Halloween treats.
- Before eating treats, sort and check them at home after trick-or-treating. Tampering with treats is rare, adults really want to check for items that may be open, spoiled, or inappropriate for children (such as anything that could trigger and allergic reaction).
- Ration treats, as much as possible, following Halloween.
Safety proofing your home.
- If you plan to receive trick-or-treaters, remember to turn on your porch light to indicate you’re willing to have guests. (Check ahead of time to make sure your burned out bulbs are replaced.)
- Consider giving something other than food, such as coloring books, pencils, or other child-appropriate items.
- Remove items on your porch or in the yard or driveway that children could trip over (for example, bikes, lawn decorations, hoses, and toys). Sweep aside hazards such as wet leaves, sticks, and other debris from sidewalks and driveways.
- Restrain pets so they don’t jump at children.
- Consider using glow lights or flashlights to illuminate outdoor pumpkins and other decorations. If you use candles, small votive candles are the best.
For more safe Halloween tips, see the AAP’s special Halloween website page.