9 Tricks for a Safe Halloween

9 Tricks for a Safe Halloween

Use these tips to avoid spooky holiday hazards on the trick-or-treat trail.

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By Taylor Lupo

Halloween is a magical day for many children, and a few precautions will help keep it that way! According to the US Census Bureau, more than 41 million children between the ages of 5 and 14 trick-or-treat each year. With so many youngsters scampering from door-to-door, it’s no surprise Halloween ranks among the top five most likely days a child will take a trip to the emergency room.

Luckily, many of these holiday-related bumps and bruises can be prevented. To ensure the day is filled with fun, follow these safety precautions from Douglas Holtzman, MD, a pediatric emergency medicine physician at Summerville Medical Center in Summerville, South Carolina.

Pick the Right Costume

2 / 10 Pick the Right Costume

Dr. Holtzman recommends parents only purchase flame-retardant costumes. In a rush to the candy bowl that awaits at the next open door, kids may not notice the candle-lit jack-o’-lanterns decorating the walkway.

According to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), burns are among the leading causes of Halloween-related hospital visits. There are nearly twice as many fires caused by open flames during Halloween than on any other day, and they’re primarily caused by lit candles. Flame-retardant or -resistant costumes and accessories—along with keeping a lookout for potentially dangerous decorations—can keep kids safe. 

Find The Perfect Fit

3 / 10 Find The Perfect Fit

Scraped knees and stubbed toes are a normal part of childhood, but tripping on a costume that is too big or drags along the ground can cause more serious injuries. Sprains, fractures, lacerations and abrasions are among the most common Halloween injuries, all of which can be caused by trips and falls. Costumes that fit properly can minimize these risks.

Skip The Swords

4 / 10 Skip The Swords

Swords and pitchforks may seem like awesome accessories—until someone gets hurt. The cost of a playful sword fight with a handheld prop that is too long or sharp could easily result in an injury to the eye or anywhere else. Accessories also limit a child’s ability to use their hands to catch themselves if they stumble.

Look for props that are soft and flexible. If you can’t find a safer option, fasten the prop to your child’s costume or, even better, leave it at home.

Embrace The POWER Of The Paint

5 / 10 Embrace The POWER Of The Paint

Kids love to hide their identities on Halloween, but the downside is that masks limit a child’s vision, especially when crossing the street. The scary truth is, on average, twice as many child pedestrians are fatally struck by drivers on Halloween than other days.

Instruct your child to remove his mask when crossing the street, or opt for non-toxic face paint and a well-fitting hat, instead. “You want to make sure they have good visibility so they don’t miss steps or curbs or trip and fall, all for the sake of the mask,” says Holtzman.

Get The Glow

6 / 10 Get The Glow

In addition to making sure your child can see, take extra steps to be sure your child is visible to drivers and other pedestrians. “They need to see and be seen,” says Holtzman.

Kids tend to have very strong opinions about their Halloween costumes. You can encourage brightly colored and reflective costumes, but if your child insists on dressing in black as a Ninja warrior, there are a few things you can do. Add reflective tape to the front and back of the costume, as well as your child’s plastic pumpkin or trick-or-treat bag.

Other ways to brighten the night? “There are lots of good options, from pumpkin flashlights to flashing bracelets or glow sticks,” says Holtzman.

Know Your Area

7 / 10 Know Your Area

Stay in well-lit areas without too much road traffic, especially when taking younger children trick-or-treating. Stay in areas that are populated with other trick-or-treaters, where drivers, seeing packs of kids, will be reminded to slow down. Avoid busy intersections—the cool decorated house that requires a race across a highly traveled road just isn’t worth it. 

Use The Buddy System

8 / 10 Use The Buddy System

Children younger than 10 years old should be with a parent or an older, responsible sibling or friend. “There are lots of places that do ‘trunk-or-treat,’ where kids trick-or-treat out of the back of people's cars,” says Holtzman. Trunk-or-treat usually takes place in a parking lot—like a church or school—where parents decorate the trunks of their cars and let kids collect candy.

Remind older children, who may be out without parental supervision, to visit houses with porch lights and to never enter anyone’s home. Insist that they trick-or-treat with a group of two or more friends.


Swap Treats For Toys

9 / 10 Swap Treats For Toys

It’s tough to find healthy candy options on Halloween, but other treats can be just as fun. The Teal Pumpkin Project promotes inclusion for those with nut allergies by handing out non-edible treats like stickers and bubbles. “Kids love bubbles, stickers and glow sticks,” says Holtzman. “Just be careful not to give out treats that could be choking hazards to little ones.”

Sort The Stash

10 / 10 Sort The Stash

Parents have long been warned against hazards lurking in their child’s loot and encouraged to check kids’ candy as soon as they arrive home. “If anything looks remotely suspicious or like it may have been tampered with, throw it away immediately,” says Holtzman. He also suggests separating treats by type. “That way you can ration the amount of sugar intake,” he says. To be on the safe side, throw away any fruit, like apples.