Photo by Matt McGee
1. Pick a Safe Costume — Help your child pick out a costume that will help keep them safe by making sure it has a few key characteristics. Your child’s costume should always be fireproof. Make sure there are no long capes, strings, or hems on the costume that your child can trip on. Long billowing sleeves are a fire hazard due to the large amount of jack-o-lanterns that will be on display. Never use a paper costume as they are likely to also catch fire easily. If you live in an area with colder weather, make sure their costume will keep them warm enough for a long night of collecting treats.
2. Have the Right Shoes — Having the proper shoes for a long night of trick or treating is essential. Always make sure their shoes fit well and are comfortable for lots of walking. Never allow your child to wear high heels with their costume. It is very important for their shoes to have the proper support to keep them from falling down and to keep them comfortable so they can enjoy their night.
3. Practice Pumpkin Safety — When carving pumpkins all children love to help, here’s how to let them help safely. Do not let them use a sharp knife to cut into a pumpkin. For older children there are plastic saw-type knives on the market. For younger children just have them scoop out the gunk and then draw a face on it for you to cut for them. When placing the pumpkin out with a candle, make sure that it is out of the way enough that your child’s costume doesn’t brush by it and accidentally catch on fire. Or better yet there are “flameless” LED lights on the market now that are completely safe and look realistic. Another option is to use a glow stick for an eerie but safe glow.
4. Makeup is Safer than Masks — Although your child might be dying to wear a mask to transform themselves into their favorite superhero or gruesome monster, makeup is always a safer disguise. Make sure the makeup is non toxic and meets FDA standards. Masks are unsafe because they can obstruct vision which is particularly dangerous while trick or treating in the dark. If they must wear a mask then make sure that the eye holes are large enough that they do not obstruct your child’s vision and that the mouth and nose holes are large enough for adequate breathing.
5. Keep Their Props in Check — If your child’s costume requires them to carry an ax, pitchfork, butcher knife, or the like then you must make sure that the tips are smooth and flexible enough to not cause injury if fallen on. Make sure your child is easily able to handle carrying their prop around; a plastic light weight prop will be easier for your child to handle. Also teach your child to never swing at or hit anybody with their prop.
6. Supervise, Supervise, Supervise! — Never let your child go out trick or treating without proper supervision. If they are older and are insisting on their independence then follow behind at a close distance. If you are not able to chaperone, make sure another parent is keeping an eye on your child. If no parents are available to supervise, a great idea is to hire a neighborhood teenager to go out trick or treating with your child and their friends.
7. Be Seen and Be Safe – Make sure your child will be seen when out trick or treating in the dark. Bright colors can help them be seen at night; if they are wearing a dark colored costume you can affix reflective tape strips onto the costume. Always have them carry a light or a glow stick so cars will see them. If they have too much to carry between their props and their candy bag, a great idea is to have them wear glow bracelets or necklaces. There are also clip on lights that will easily fasten on their costume. As you chaperone your children make sure you are carrying a bright flashlight to illuminate their path so they can see where they are going.
8. Basic Safety for Halloween and Everyday — To make trick or treating as safe as possible make sure that your children know basic everyday safety such as looking both ways before crossing the street, never getting into a strangers car, and not talking to strangers. Make sure they know to never go in anybody’s house while out trick or treating. Also teach them not to approach any house that is not well lit on the inside and the outside. Make sure they know to be alert for suspicious activities and to report any to their chaperones or the proper authorities.
9. Use the Buddy System - When going out trick or treating with groups of children, it is always a good idea to have them pair up and use the buddy system. In large groups it is very easy for someone to get left behind. Make sure the children know to never leave their buddy behind and nobody will get lost.
10. Safe Candy is Yummy Candy — Always inspect your child’s candy before letting them eat it. Do not let them eat any candy that has open or broken wrappers. Never let them eat homemade treats. Make sure candy is age appropriate for your little one, young children can choke on small things like hard candy and peanuts. Always trick or treat in a familiar neighborhood so you know where your child’s treats are coming from. Feed your child a spooky Halloween dinner before going out trick or treating so they are less likely to eat their candy before you have a chance to check it.
11. Emergency Information — If by chance your child does get lost or separated from you or their chaperone, then it is a good idea to have their name, address, and phone number labeled somewhere discreetly. Affix this emergency information to the inside of their costume or on a hidden bracelet. Tell your child where this label is so that if he or she gets lost they will be able to point authorities to this information.
12. Make Your House Safe for Trick or Treaters — When Halloween night rolls around make sure that your walkway and porch is well lit. Take extra effort to eliminate tripping hazards like garden hoses, flower pots, low tree limbs, and support wires. Make sure to clear wet leaves from your walkway. Remember you will have young children rushing from house to house in the dark. Do a quick walk through in the daylight to make sure that your yard is completely safe. Always restrain dogs or other animals that may trip up trick or treaters.
13. Plan Your Route — Take the time before the big night to plan out your child’s route for trick or treating. Don’t trick or treat in areas of heavy traffic or construction. Don’t go in areas where you are not completely comfortable. Setting a predetermined route with a clear start and end point will avoid hassles and arguments on the big night.
14. Ration the Loot — Do not let your child binge on candy when they get home from trick or treating. Make sure to have plenty of healthy snacks available for hungry little ghosts and goblins. If your child collects tons of candy, dole out a few pieces at a time and save the rest for later. You may even want to ask your child to swap some or even all of their loot for something else they want such as a special toy, book, or outing.
15. Stay Safe on the Streets — Make sure your children know to always cross at corners and never to dart out in between parked cars. Let them know that they must stay on one side of the street, no criss-crossing allowed! Make sure they stick to well lit streets and stay on sidewalks avoiding shortcuts like alleyways, backyards, or parks. If there are no sidewalks, always walk on the left side of the street facing cars.
16. Set a Curfew — Set a reasonable curfew depending on your child’s age and stick with it. Allow children to go out early but have them avoid the evening rush hour; it’s harder for motorists to see clearly during twilight than any other time of day. Very young children should only go out trick or treating in daylight. Older children should always be home at a decent hour to avoid them knocking on neighbors doors too late.
Don’t let your children fall prey to a Halloween mishap! Make sure to follow these 16 simple tips so you can ensure that your little trick or treaters are safe and happy this Halloween night. Happy Haunting!