Thanks to endless myths of poisoned gumdrops and chocolate bars laden with needles, I couldn’t dig into my Halloween candy until I took it home and had my parents inspect it. Turns out, there is no evidence any child has even been harmed by a contaminated treat picked up from trick-or-treating. Apparently, the bad guys don’t have enough time to meticulously insert razor blades into Halloween candy. Who can blame them? They’re probably like the rest of us and would rather binge watch Halloween specials in their spare time.
While checking your little witch’s and ghoul’s candy is still important, here’s a list of more-common Halloween safety hazards and tips worth paying attention to.
1. Yield to Cars
Halloween is one of the most deadly nights of the year for pedestrians. Kids are four times more likely to be hit by a car than any other night. Make sure your children understand cars can’t always see them and to be smart when crossing. During a study, research found 70% of all child pedestrian fatalities happened outside of crosswalks and intersections. Never cross the street between parked cars or mid-block. Instead, walk to the nearest street corner, look both ways and listen for oncoming cars before crossing.
2. Be Seen
Sixty percent of all pedestrian deaths happen when it’s dark. Since reflective tape comes in so many colors these days, adding some to your child’s costume will not only make the costume one-of-a-kind, but increase the visibility of your child walking down the street. If it doesn’t fit the look or style of their costume, get crafty and assist them to make their own reflective trick-or-treat bag.
Lastly, kids love glow sticks. Pick up a few for them to add to their costume, wear as bracelets, or put in their treat bag to increase visibility. Just be sure they know not to ingest them.
3. Choose Costumes Wisely
Use common-sense when letting your little one pick out a costume. We all remember the candy-breath condensation that builds on the inside of a mask as you squint to see through the tiny eye slits. And that hand-me-down princess dress that’s a size too big? Tripping over it would ruin anyone’s night. Encourage simple, comfortable and warm costumes. Make alterations as needed.
4. Stay Off Homeowners Lawns
There is always someone who’s going to be annoyed the children of the night are trampling their prized and trim lawn. While it’s good to respect people’s wishes, it’s also a safety precaution. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve watched little ghosts and witches trip over the strings anchoring my mother’s inflatable Frankenstein to the lawn. We finally added caution tape to the strings so they were more visible.
Not all homeowners foresee these accidents and may have decorations that can be damaged, or worse, harmful if tripped over. Teach kids to stay on sidewalks, and respect homeowners’ yards. This should keep them from causing any damage and safe.
5. Have a Plan
Some parents feel comfortable allowing their kids to trick-or-treat alone. If you trust your child and community, it can be a great independence test. Practice making a route and planning it with your kids while they’re young and you’re still accompanying them. Outline what neighborhoods you’ll start with, where you’ll go, and where to avoid. Get really creative and make your own map for them to follow and lead the way!
When they’re old enough to go on their own, let them make their own plan and present it to you. You can make changes and identify “check in” spots where they’ll have to call to let you know they’re okay, make sure they haven’t lost anything, or worse—anyone. For this, we recommend sending a cell phone with them. Hint: Stick it in their candy bag to avoid it getting lost. We all know they won’t lose that!
If you want to track them more closely, download an app to check their whereabouts any time using the smart phone you sent with them. They’ll stay safe, and you won’t have to worry about being an overbearing parent.
If you’re really invested, you can use a GPS tracker to keep an eye on your kids year-round.
Lastly, set a curfew. We recommend children should be home by 9:30 p.m.
6. Look for Porch Lights
Warn kids that homes aren’t always welcoming to trick-or-treaters. As a rule of thumb, look for a well-lit home with a porch light on. This is a universal signal that trick-or-treaters are welcome. Teach them a dark house may mean no one is home, or they’ve gone to bed. Teach them to trust their instincts. If a house doesn’t feel welcoming, or they get nervous, simply leave and move onto the next.
Last, they should never enter a home without an adult.
7. Prepare Emergency Contact Information
While seldom needed, it’s a good idea to have contact information on your child in case of emergency. If they have an emergency card, stick it in their pocket or bag. An even better idea is to write an “If lost call” message with a fine-point pen or marker on your child’s wrist. Seal it with liquid bandage to keep it from washing off.
Wheat, peanut, and milk could all spell disaster for a little one with food allergies. A non-safe piece of candy can break open in their bag, contaminating the remainder of the loot. Not to mention the fact that Halloween is no aid to the childhood obesity epidemic sweeping America.
If lost or in trouble, find a phone and call home immediately
Halloween presents excellent learning opportunities for kids to learn and apply common safety practices. Give them the opportunity to make smart decisions, but be there to supervise and enforce the rules.