How to Keep Kids Safe on Halloween

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For many children (and adults!), 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 Halloween safety tips checklist for keeping your kids safe on Halloween night.

Image: Yaroslav Shuraev, Pexels


Halloween safety checklist ✔

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 for Halloween safety.

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. Also make sure to clear walkways of loose gravel, and 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

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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 (like a tea light).

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 remember that many 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 your home's outdoor lights are working, and consider turning on floodlights to illuminate the darkest areas of your yard.

Even if you’re not going to be home, leave on porch lights for Halloween 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 they could knock down a toddler or scare a teen into the street, causing even more danger.

Use crates or pet gates to keep all pets securely confined inside your home until the hustle and bustle of the night has passed. 

7. Don’t put out unattended 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 the garage and securely store your car in it. Children are three 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. And 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 should still be cautious of whom you open the door for. 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.

Kids looking at candy on Halloween

Safety tips by age group

Young children

In addition to adult supervision, here are more ways to help keep your children safe and secure on Halloween.

Costume safety

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Be fire cautious. 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 loose or baggy costumes. For an added precaution, check the U.S. Consumer Products Safety Commission website for Halloween costume recalls.

Increase their visibility. Add a few pieces of reflective tape to your child’s costume and trick-or-treat bag or add some glowing bracelets or necklaces to help your child be seen. Keep glow sticks away from babies as they may be tempted to chew on them. Glow sticks contain glass or plastic shards.

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.

Avoid teal candy buckets for autism awareness. You may have seen the tip on social media to use a teal bucket as a signal that your child is non-verbal and won't say "Happy Halloween" at houses. While well-intentioned, a teal bucket also signals to bullies and potential predators that your child could be vulnerable.

Trick-or-treating safety

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Talk to your child about what they should do if they get lost. For extra precaution, consider having your child wear a GPS-tracking device or a Halloween safety tattoo.

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.

Candy safety

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.

Teenagers toasting in costumes on Halloween

Tweens and teens

If your kids are heading out this Halloween without an adult escort, review these tips to help them stay safe.

Neighborhood safety

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.

Party safety 

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.

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Noonlight is a safety app that turns your smartphone into a panic button. Noonlight connects you to a professionally-staffed monitoring center that can dispatch help to your location with the touch of a button. Download the Noonlight app before Halloween to give your kids a virtual line to safety, no matter where they are. Best of all, Noonlight's basic monitoring service is completely free.

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.

An in-depth study of National Highway Traffic Safety Administration data 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. Remind them to use extreme caution if they do get behind the wheel.

Get more Halloween safety tips

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.

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Alina Bradford
Written by
Alina Bradford
Alina is a safety and security expert that has contributed her insights to CNET, CBS, Digital Trends, MTV, Top Ten Reviews, and many others. Her goal is to make safety and security gadgets less mystifying one article at a time. In the early 2000s, Alina worked as a volunteer firefighter, earning her first responder certification and paving the way to her current career. Her activities aren’t nearly as dangerous today. Her hobbies include fixing up her 100-year-old house, doing artsy stuff, and going to the lake with her family.

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