13 Spook-tacular Steps for Keeping Kids Safe on Halloween
A child’s risk of getting hit by a car doubles during this holiday. Here’s how to help keep children safe from cars and other hazards
Every year, millions of children dress up like pop stars, super heroes, ghosts, goblins and ghouls and go door-to-door to collect candy at Halloween. While this holiday is often a favorite for kids, it poses some risks, from the increased likelihood of getting hit by cars to potential fires from Halloween decorations. Keep kids safe with these 13 lucky tips.
1. Make sure drivers can see kids in
the dark, because
twice as many kids are killed while
walking on Halloween than any other day of the year, according to SafeKids Worldwide. Make them visible by
choosing bright costumes, adding reflective tape to costumes, and having
them carry flashlights and/or glow sticks.
2. Slow down when you drive on
Halloween, and expect numerous kids to be walking through neighborhoods; in
their excitement, they may run out in front of a car. Also, be sure to remind
your teens why they need to be hyper focused if driving, especially on
3. Skip the masks, because they can limit kids’ sight, and also because it makes it difficult to tell who’s in the costume.
“In addition to limiting kids’ sight and making them more likely to trip or step in front of traffic, seeing the kids’ faces and to know their identity is important for parents and neighbors answering their door on Halloween. Avoid masks to let people know who you are,” says Barb Guthrie, UL VP.
Instead, choose nontoxic makeup. Try it on a small area of skin first, advises the American Academy of Pediatrics. Be sure to remove all makeup before bed to prevent skin and eye irritation.
4. Props are tons of fun, but consider leaving them at home because they can pose a tripping hazard or, if sharp, can injure someone, advises the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Besides, between a flashlight/glowstick and a candy bag, kids have plenty to carry.
flame-resistant costumes. Although “flame resistant” does not make these fireproof,
the flame resistance will provide enough time for a child to immediately stop, drop and roll
if their clothing catches fire to put it out. Look for “fire resistant” on the label.
6. Avoid candles on Halloween, as candles are responsible for 8,700 home structure fires a year, according to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA).
“Halloween is such a busy festival time that it’s easy to get distracted and accidently leave candles unattended. So why worry about candles?” Guthrie says. “Use alternatives instead.”
Instead of candles, choose flameless lights like battery-operated candles or glowsticks in jack-o-lanterns. Also, don’t put decorations anywhere near heaters or light bulbs (or anything that gives off heat), as this causes numerous house fires each year, according to the NFPA.
7. Only give out candy that is store bought and wrapped, which is best from a safety and allergy standpoint, Guthrie says. Then, after trick-or-treating, check your kids’ candy to be sure there are no signs of tampering, advises the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC). Also be sure to read ingredients if your child has an allergy.
“You can also consider sending some of the candy to the troops, which we do at UL,” Guthrie says. “There are pickup locations in municipalities around the country.” Here’s one example.
8. Check your neighborhood’s and municipality’s rules for trick or treating. Some communities have curfews and other guidelines.
9. Consider alternatives to going door to door, such as taking the kids to Halloween trick-or-treating parties at community centers, shopping malls, fire departments, museums, etc. Check your local newspaper’s website for local information.
“Any of these are a great safe alternatives to going door to door
in strange neighborhoods or walking around at night,” points out
10. Go with kids under 12. That way you’re there to make sure they look both ways before crossing streets, and cross at intersections, not mid-block. You’ll also be there to ensure you go to houses of neighbors you know, and all get home safely.
11. Let teens have their fun, too. Help them to be responsible for themselves and their smaller siblings by reminding them of the curfew you set for them, and planning out a route with them beforehand in familiar, well-lit areas where you know your neighbors. Additionally, teens should go as a group, never alone, advises the National Safety Council.
12. If a house’s porchlight is out, that household is not participating in the giving out of candy on Halloween, so it’s best to skip it.
“That’s following common Halloween etiquette,” Guthrie says.
13. Prepare your home for trick-or-treaters. Add appropriate lighting along sidewalks, and be sure ahead of time that walking areas and stairs are well-lit and free of obstacles, advises the CDC. Also, keep pets safe and calm.
Have a safe and happy Halloween!