How to Have a Safe & Happy Halloween with Kids

Protect your little ghosts and goblins from common Halloween dangers on this fright night.

  • iStockphoto

    Ensuring Halloween Happiness

    When Halloween season rolls around, it's important to know what to do when hazards pop up! We'll show you how to deal with costume malfunctions, how to pick a safe face paint or mask, how to inspect your child's treat bag, and more!

  • King Au

    Problem: The costume makes your child hard to spot in the dark.

    What to do: Pick out or create a light-colored or bright costume that drivers can easily see. If your child wants to be dark and spooky, decorate the outside of his costume with strips of reflective tape (which you can find in most hardware stores). Make sure his treat bag is also brightly colored or trimmed in reflective tape.

  • King Au

    Problem: The costume is a tripping hazard.

    What to do: Many children sustain injuries from falling on Halloween, so it's important to make sure your child's costume fits correctly. To prevent her from tripping on curbs, steps, or the hem itself, keep pants, dresses, and capes above her ankles. She should be able to wear warmer clothes underneath the costume if it's cold out, but the outfit shouldn't be so loose that it catches on doorknobs. Don't let her wear shoes or hats that are too big.

  • Ericka McConnell

    Problem: The costume is flammable.

    What to do: If you're buying a costume, make sure it's labeled "flame resistant." This doesn't mean that the outfit is burn proof, but the material won't catch on fire as easily or burn as quickly. Keep your child away from jack-o'-lanterns and other open flames.

  • iStock

    Problem: Your child's wearing a costume mask and can't see well.

    What to do: A mask makes it difficult for your child to spot potential hazards when he's near a busy street or near a lot of other children. The mask could also scrape his face and eyes. Consider using non-toxic makeup instead. If he's set on wearing a mask, make sure it's the right size -- the eye and mouth holes should be large enough for him to see and breathe through properly.

  • Blend Images/Veer

    Problem: My child's costume accessories are dangerous.

    What to do: Carefully choose the props to go with her outfit, and remove choking hazards -- such as buttons and beads -- from younger children's costumes. Swords, wands, and other props can cause eye, face, and head injuries, so use a flexible material, such as cardboard. Avoid hats with cords, which can get caught on objects and could potentially strangle your child.

  • Problem: I'm worried about carving pumpkins with my children.

    What to do: Dispose of pumpkin seeds and pulp -- potential choking hazards -- after you scoop them out. Then, make sure you talk to your children about potential pumpkin carving hazards -- cuts, scrapes, burns, or worse -- before you begin the process.

  • Ericka McConnell

    Problem: My child is too young to carve a pumpkin.

    What to do: Make sure children five years old and younger steer clear of the carving knives. Instead, let them draw the pumpkin's face with a marker. Also, make sure you're the one placing the candles in any finished carved pumpkins for safety reasons.

  • Peter Krumhardt

    Problem: I'm wary of letting my older children carve their own pumpkins.

    What to do: Pick out a flat, well-lit surface for carving, and keep an eye on older children as they carve their pumpkins -- you may want to buy a pair of special pumpkin cutters that have safety bars to prevent accidents.

  • Andy Lyons

    Problem: I'm worried that keeping a Jack-o'-lantern lit is too risky.

    What to do: Move jack-o'-lanterns away from curtains and other flammable material. Don't leave a lit pumpkin unattended or let your children play near it.

  • Problem: I'm worried that my child may have an allergic reaction to face paint.

    What to do: When you choose Halloween makeup or face paint, be sure that it's nontoxic. Then, do a patch test on a small section of your child's skin a few days before Halloween to make sure he's not allergic to the product. If he breaks out in a rash or starts swelling, call your pediatrician immediately. Be extra careful near his face and eyes; even safe cosmetics can irritate!

  • Michael Kraus

    Problem: How do I make sure I remove all of my child's face paint at the end of the night?

    What to do: Rinse thoroughly. Remove all the makeup from your child's face before bedtime. Sleeping with the paint on can irritate her skin and eyes. There should be directions on the label for taking off the makeup correctly; if not, gently wash it off with warm water and soap, cold cream, or makeup remover.

  • Greg Scheidemann

    Problem: I think my child's candy might be unsafe to eat.

    What to do: While Halloween candy-tampering is uncommon, it's a good idea for you to take a look at all your child's treats. Closely examine every piece of candy, and throw out ones that are unwrapped, have tears or pinholes on the wrapping, or look suspicious. Toss hand-wrapped cookies or fruit (unless you trust the giver).

  • Cameron Sadeghpour

    Problem: My child wants to eat some candy before I've looked through his bag.

    What to do: Make sure your child understands that he isn't allowed to sample any treats until you inspect them at home. To keep his hunger at bay, eat dinner or a healthy snack with your child before you venture out. If he's hungry, he'll be more tempted to sneak treats.

  • Marty Baldwin

    Problem: My child is too young for some candy in his bag.

    What to do: If your child is younger than 4, remove any choking hazards from his bag, including hard candies, small toys, gum, and nuts.

  • Jim Franco

    Problem: I want to keep my children safe on Halloween.

    What to do: The number of children who are hit by cars is four times higher on Halloween than on any other night. If you're trick-or-treating with more than three children, bring another parent along, just in case. Hold your child's hand, and stay on the sidewalks at all times. Ask children to remove masks before crossing a street, and keep an eye out for cars coming in and out of driveways. Finally, both you and your child should carry a flashlight so you can see where you're walking -- and so drivers can see you.

  • Alexandra Grablewski

    Problem: I'd like to make my home as safe as possible for trick-or-treaters.

    What to do: Your little ghouls aren't the only ones you should worry about this Halloween. Make sure your home is kid-friendly by turning your porch and driveway lights on. Keep any pets away from the front door or driveway so children aren't spooked. Remove any toys or lawn furniture from the front yard so no one trips. Place any lit jack-o'-lanterns out of reach of children; kids can get burned or their costumes might catch fire. Lastly, make sure your candy is wrapped, so other parents don't fret!