With these important safety tips, you can protect your little trick-or-treater from common Halloween dangers.

By Caylin Harris
August 10, 2020
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Ghosts and goblins are the least of your worries on Halloween, when cars, candles, and other less-than-spooky stuff can be hazardous. To keep your little trick-or-treater safe, we’ll show you how to deal with costume malfunctions, choose the best face paint, inspect your child's candy bag, and more.

Choosing a Costume

Your child may want the best costume on the block, but it should still follow some important safety protocols. These Halloween safety tips for kids’ costumes will keep your little one out of harm's way.

Stick with bright colors. A bright-colored costume will make your child more visible at night. If your kid wants to be dark and spooky, decorate the outside of their costume with strips of reflective tape (which you can find in most hardware stores). 

Opt for “flame-resistant” materials. Any store-bought Halloween costumes and accessories (masks, beards, wigs) must be 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. Also, keep your child away from jack-o'-lanterns and other open flames.

Get the proper fit. Many children sustain injuries from falling over curbs, steps, and their costumes, so it's important to make sure the outfit fits correctly. Keep pants, dresses, and capes above the ankles. Your child should also wear shoes that fit properly.

Avoid dangerous accessories. If your child carries a prop sword or knife, it should be made of soft plastic, rubber, or cardboard. This way, it will bend if your kid falls while carrying it, which helps prevent eye, face, and head injuries.

Remove choking hazards. It’s smart to remove choking hazards—such as buttons and beads—from younger children's costumes.

Consider the design of your child’s face mask. A mask makes it difficult for your child to spot potential hazards when they’re near a busy street. The mask could also scrape their face and eyes. Consider using nontoxic makeup instead. If your child is set on wearing a mask, make sure it's the right size—the eye and mouth holes should be large enough for them to see and breathe through properly.

Picking Safe Face Paint 

Face paint can be safer than masks, which might obstruct your child’s vision and breathing. Here are some Halloween safety tips for choosing the best nontoxic paint.  

Test the product. After choosing nontoxic paint, do a patch test on a small section of your child's skin to make sure they’re not allergic to the product. If their skin breaks out in a rash or starts swelling, call your pediatrician immediately. Be extra careful near their face and eyes; even safe cosmetics can irritate these delicate features.

Thoroughly remove the face paint. Remove all the makeup from your child's face before bedtime. Sleeping with the paint on can irritate skin and eyes. The label should include directions for taking off the makeup correctly; if not, gently wash it off with warm water and soap, cold cream, or makeup remover.

Halloween Safety Tips for Trick-or-Treating

When should your child start trick-or-treating on their own? How can you keep them safe from cars and strangers? Read these tips to find out. 

Supervise children younger than 12. Kids aged 12 and under should be accompanied by an adult, and their clothing should be labeled with your name, address, and phone number in case you get separated.

Prepare older kids for going alone. If your child is older than 12, they can go trick-or-treating alone, as long as they have a way to reach you via cell phone. Establish a pre-planned route and curfew, and tell them to only go to homes with outside lights on.

Add reflective tape and flashlights. Make your child easy to see by adding reflective tape or stickers to their costume. Also, give them a flashlight with fresh batteries so they can see where they’re walking—and so drivers can see them.

Remind them of street safety. Before trick-or-treating, your child should know to look left, right, and left again before crossing the street. They should also continue to look as they cross and wait for you at street corners before proceeding.  Ask children to remove masks before crossing a street, and keep an eye out for cars coming in and out of driveways. 

Stay on sidewalks. Hold a younger child's hand, and stay on the sidewalks at all times. Cutting through people's yards can lead to accidents when things like clotheslines and other hazards are hard to spot.

Credit: Shutterstock

Checking Halloween Candy for Hazards

While Halloween candy-tampering is uncommon, it's a good idea for you to take a look at all your child's treats. Practice these safety tips to avoid a negative outcome.

Examine candy before eating. 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). Your child should wait until you've inspected their treats before eating them.

Watch for allergy-causing ingredients. If your child is allergic to nuts or other foods, check all treats carefully before they dig in.

Prevent choking. If your child is younger than 4 years old, remove any choking hazards from their bag, including hard candies, popcorn, small toys, gum, and nuts.

Don’t sample candy while trick-or-treating. Make sure your child understands that they aren’t allowed to sample any treats until you inspect them at home. To keep hunger at bay, eat dinner or a healthy snack with your child before you venture out. If they’re hungry, they'll be more tempted to sneak treats.

Safety Tips for Carving Pumpkins

Carving pumpkins is a fun Halloween tradition for the whole family. Keep things light-hearted by adhering to these pumpkin-related Halloween safety tips for adults and kids.

Prep the pumpkins for carving. Dispose of pumpkin seeds and pulp—potential choking hazards—after you scoop them out. Talk to your children about pumpkin carving dangers (such as cuts, scrapes, and burns) before you begin the process.

Young children should avoid sharp knives. Children five years old and younger must steer clear of the carving knives. Instead, let them draw the pumpkin's face with a marker.

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

Prevent fires and flame-related accidents. 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. Also, make sure an adult places the candles in any finished pumpkins.

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