For many children, Halloween is one of the most anticipated nights of the year — and it’s easy to understand why. After all, when else do they get to dress up as their favorite character, collect candy to their heart’s content, and stay up past their bedtime?
Of course, you want your kids to enjoy a hauntingly fun night, but like most parents you’re probably concerned about their safety. Relax and read on. From toddlers to teens, we’ve put together the ultimate checklist for keeping your kids safe on Halloween.
Halloween Safety Checklist ✔
1. Secure railings
Young children, and the adults who often accompany them, will need the security and support of railings while climbing steps to get to your front door. If you’ve been putting off fixing that rickety railing, it’s time to get out the toolbox and make it secure.
2. Clear walkways
Trick-or-treaters are too busy counting candy to pay close attention to where they’re walking, so it’s critical to survey your yard for potential trip and slip hazards. Be sure your yard is free of tripping hazards like hoses and sprinklers, clear walkways of loose gravel, and be sure to clean moss off steps. If your home has an irrigation system, turn the system off well in advance of the big night so your lawn and walkways have a chance to dry.
3. Avoid using candles
A glowing jack-o’-lantern makes your home warm and welcoming to candy seekers, but using a candle to illuminate a pumpkin can be dangerous. Costumes, paper decorations and ornamental straw can easily catch on fire. Instead of a traditional candle, use one powered by batteries.
4. Consider candy choices.
No doubt buying Halloween candy is fun, but keep in mind that not all candy is appropriate for every child. Avoid candy that poses a choking hazard for toddlers, and keep in mind that a number of children have peanut allergies. Even if the candy doesn’t contain peanuts, it could be made in a facility that handles peanuts. Check the candy bag’s label for a peanut allergy warning.
5. Use lots of lights
A dimly lit entryway helps set the spooky mood of Halloween, but it also increases the chance of an accident. Make sure the exterior lights of your home are working, and consider turning on flood lights to illuminate the darkest areas of your yard. Even if you’re not going to be home, leave on lights for safety reasons or make sure your motion sensor lights are active to dissuade unsavory characters from vandalizing your home. And, if you won’t be there, make sure you set your security system, just to be safe.
6. Contain your pets
Barking dogs not only scare trick-or-treaters of every age away, they also present a danger. A dog that breaks away from your home might not bite, but he could knock down a toddler or scare a teen right into the street, causing even more danger. Keep all pets securely confined inside your home until the hustle and bustle of the night has passed.
7. Don’t put out candy
Maybe you won’t be home on Halloween or perhaps it’s difficult for you to answer the door, so you’ve put out a bowl of candy for kids to help themselves. While this seems like the right thing to do, someone could taint the candy. It’s probably unlikely, but it’s definitely not worth taking the chance.
8. Make room in the garage
If you’re headed out on Halloween, clean out the garage and store your car securely in it. Children are four times more likely to be struck by a motor vehicle on Halloween than any other day of the year, meaning that parking your car and trick or treating on foot is a good idea. When you also consider potential vehicle vandalism and theft, your car is best kept in the garage on Halloween.
9. Use discretion when opening the door
While nearly all trick-or-treaters are innocent kids out to collect as much candy as they can possibly carry, you must still be cautious of whom you open the door for. If you have an uneasy feeling about the person approaching your door, don’t open it. And as the barrage of trick-or-treaters fades to just a few here and there, it’s a good idea to stop opening the door for the night.
Halloween has a reputation as a frightening holiday, but that doesn’t mean it should be dangerous. Use our tips and resources to keep trick-or-treaters and your family safe and enjoy a spooktacular Halloween night.
Safety Tips by Age Group
In addition to adult supervision, here are more ways to help keep your children safe and secure on Halloween.
When purchasing your child’s costume, check the label to be sure it is flame resistant, which means it should resist burning and extinguish quickly. If you’re making their costume, use flame-resistant fabrics such as nylon or polyester. To help minimize the risk of contact with candles and other fire sources, avoid costumes that are loose or baggy. For added precaution, check the U.S. Consumer Products Safety Commission website for Halloween costume recalls.
To help prevent trips and falls, be sure your child’s costume and shoes fit properly. Have them try on their costume several days before Halloween so you have time to make necessary adjustments. If their costume includes an accessory such as a sword or knife, it should be soft and have a blunt end.
Opt for face paint instead of a mask, which can obstruct your child’s vision. Buy nontoxic face paint or make homemade paint with your child. Test the paint on your child’s face several days before Halloween to be sure it won’t trigger an allergic reaction.
Add a few pieces of reflective tape to your child’s costume and trick-or-treat bag to increase their visibility. Glowing bracelets or necklaces can also help your child be seen, but keep them away from babies as they may be tempted to chew on them.
Trick-or-treating generates a lot of excitement, which means your kids may forget the basic pedestrian safety rules you’ve taught them. Before your night begins, remind them to stay on sidewalks, never dart into the street from between parked cars, and walk, not run, from house to house.
You should be sure to carry a flashlight with new batteries. Depending on their age, you may also want to provide your child with their own flashlight. If you do, choose one that’s labeled child-safe.
Caution your kids against eating goodies before you’ve had a chance to approve them, and only okay candy that is in its original wrapper. Be mindful of any food allergies your child may have, and never allow your little one to eat a treat that poses a choking hazard. Hard candy tops the list of foods that most often send kids to the emergency room. Have safe treats or inexpensive toys on hand to trade your child for their dangerous candy.
To help avoid post trick-or-treating belly aches and tantrums, have your child eat a good meal before the night begins and discuss how many pieces of candy they’ll be allowed to eat.
Tweens and Teens
If your kids are heading out this Halloween without an adult escort, review these tips to help them stay safe.
Consider downloading a crime mapping app like CrimeReports to learn what crime is taking place in your community and find out where registered sex offenders live. Use this information to help your child plan their trick-or-treat route and discuss any off-limit areas or homes.
Before they leave home, be sure your child has their cell phone and establish how often they should check in with you. Tell them to call you immediately if the plans they’ve discussed with you change. You should also talk about “what ifs.” For example, you might ask your child what they will do if someone offers them alcohol or drugs at a party, or if a stranger invites them into their home while they’re trick-or-treating.
Older kids may skip trick-or-treating and attend a party. Make sure a parent will be in attendance and find out what time the party is expected to end.
Allow your child to enjoy their independence while helping them stay safe by downloading a personal safety app. These apps can let you do things like check your child’s GPS location and confirm that they made it to their destination.
Remind older children that Halloween “pranks,” such as toilet papering a house or throwing eggs at passing cars are not only disrespectful, they’re also illegal.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration warns that Halloween is a dangerous night for pedestrians; it’s also a perilous one for motorists due to the number of drunk drivers on the road. Consider prohibiting your teen from driving on Halloween. If they do get behind the wheel, remind them to use extreme caution.
We hope this list will help your kids enjoy a safe night of trick-or-treating. For more tips, plus a slew of creative uses for leftover candy, check out our Halloween-themed Pinterest board.
Did we miss anything? What Halloween Safety tips would you add to the list?
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Written by Hillary Johnston
A proud mother of four, Hillary is passionate about safety education. She holds a degree in Public Health and Disaster Management. Learn more