While Halloween can be lots of fun for the whole family, there are a few things to think about for a safe Halloween. Surveys have found that Halloween comes with a heightened risk for injury and even death.
Furthermore, many parents report sending their children trick-or-treating without supervision as well as allowing kids to wear costumes to include potentially dangerous accessories.
While we can’t control what everyone else around us does, there are plenty of steps we can take as parents and caregivers to ensure the safety of children and neighbors this Halloween. To make Halloween a success, it’s important to prioritize safety as kids go door-to-door. Here are a few of our top tips for a safe Halloween, so everyone can have the best time.
Halloween safety tips for parents
As parents, it’s our job to set our kids up for a safe and successful evening of trick-or-treating on Halloween. This means discussing and implementing Halloween safety measures before trick-or-treating even begins.
Communication and setting boundaries to minimize risk is the best way to set kids up for a safe Halloween experience. Here are a few ways parents can approach the discussion of Halloween safety tips for kids.
Before trick-or-treating, choose costumes without masks that can impair breathing and vision and clothing that isn’t baggy to prevent tripping.
Start the evening by having a conversation with your kids about the expectations for trick or treating safety. Younger children should always be supervised and should only go out with a trusted adult. Child trackers may be clipped to clothing, or emergency contact information can be written on their arm or wristband should they become separated.
Older children should have directions for their trick-or-treating route, who they will be walking with, and what time they are expected to return home. This may also include checking in with parents periodically throughout the evening.
With all of the activities on Halloween nights, teach children to be particularly aware of their surroundings when trick-or-treating. Going out in groups is important, whether it’s a neighborhood pod or a handful of young kids with parental supervision.
Kids should be supervised at all times, especially when they are going up to the door at houses and crossing streets. Supplying them with a flashlight, glowstick, or reflective tape is a good safety practice to remain seen in the dark.
Teach children to never go inside of a stranger’s home on Halloween or any other night of the year. Instruct them to use crosswalks when they cross the street. And remind them to not approach pets, who may be particularly on edge due to the excitement of the evening.
Halloween safety tips also apply after children have returned home. Kids are always excited to dive into their candy collection right away, but it’s a good idea to go through their haul together before anything is consumed.
Certain types of candy may be unsafe for younger children because of their texture or shape. Things like jaw-breakers or other round candy, as well as super chewy candy, should not be given to young children.
Checking for damaged candy is one of the most important tips for Halloween safety. Discarding pieces that have been opened is a crucial preventive practice in case they have been tampered with.
Make your home safe for trick-or-treaters
Halloween safety also applies if you’re handing out candy, as you want everyone to feel safe and comfortable when they come to your door. When kids arrive for trick-or-treating, there are things you can do to offer a safe experience for everyone involved.
Be mindful of allergies
Nut allergies are prominent. Additionally, many kids are also allergic to ingredients like chocolate or milk. Some kids have food sensitivities to gluten or other ingredients as well, so they may be more particular about the candy they are allowed to have.
If you incorporate candy with ingredients that are common allergens, you may also have a separate bucket free from common allergens.
Some families place a teal-colored pumpkin (real or fake) on their doorstep on Halloween to indicate they are an allergy-friendly stop. Neighborhood sites often share maps with allergy-friendly homes highlighted to make them easier to find.
Create a candy chute
This trend became popular during the pandemic to allow children Halloween fun while also social distancing. Some families have gotten really creative, using anything from PVC pipes to homemade catapults to get candy from their doorstep to children’s bags without passing of hands.
Another idea is to create a candy “graveyard” on the front lawn, where children can grab candy as they pass by rather than approaching the door.
Provide well-lit paths and doors
Most of the time spent trick-or-treating is in the dark. Help families find your door by keeping it well-lit. Limit Halloween decorations in the path between the street and your front door. While you may want the front yard to say dark for a creepy vibe, having lights that line the pathway can help prevent falls.
Keep your pets and trick-or-treaters safe
Halloween pet safety is important for your animals and trick-or-treaters. Pets can become anxious with the constant ringing of the doorbell and unexpected guests coming to the door all night.
If that is the case, consider putting your pet in a quiet room or crate away from the front door. Or keep them on a leash so you can control them when you open the door. If your animal is extremely anxious or may become aggressive consider boarding them for the evening to ensure a safe Halloween for everyone.
Use trick-or-treater-friendly outdoor decorations
While Halloween decorations can be fun and spooky, they can also pose a hazard to trick-or-treaters. Choose items that do not have any trip hazards, such as electrical cords. Avoid items with sharp edges.
Consider light-up decorations, particularly near pathways so they can be clearly seen by approaching trick-or-treaters.
Jack-O-Lantern safety tips
While light up Jack-O-Lanterns look fun on Halloween night and add to the mood, if real candles are used this can pose a fire hazard. Consider using glow sticks or battery powered tea lights instead.
Also, don’t carve your Jack-O-Lanterns too far in advance as they tend to mold quickly. Rotten pumpkin flesh may cause a slipping hazard if left out too long on a front porch.
Alternatives to traditional trick-or-treating
Going door to door isn’t the only way to celebrate Halloween. If you prefer a safe alternative to trick-or-treating, host a Halloween gathering during the day or look for a trunk or treat in your community.
Trunk or treat is where communities or organizations will go to parking lots and decorate the trunks of their cars to pass out candy. If your child is sick, you can always have a scary movie night or get creative and make each room in your house a trick-or-treat stop.
Halloween safety tips for adults
Many adults love Halloween festivities just as much as children do, but they need to stay safe as well. Children aren’t the only ones who benefit from Halloween safety tips. Here are some for adults celebrating the holiday.
Prepare before you go out
Preparation is the best way to avoid potential Halloween risks. Have a plan, including what route your family will take for trick or treating or festivities, as well as a start and end time. Take a flashlight and phone with you.
If you’re not going to be home while others are trick-or-treating, this may also include placing a bucket of candy on your front porch, leaving the light on and making sure your door is locked.
Celebrate at home
If you’re not keen on the idea of leaving the house this Halloween, you can offer the alternative of celebrating at home. It is especially wise to avoid driving under the influence if you’re planning to consume alcohol. You may also feel safer being at home to avoid large crowds and the risk of COVID-19 during Halloween.
Be careful while driving
Accidents on the road are common on Halloween, therefore it is essential to stay vigilant while driving through neighborhoods or truck or treat parking lots.
There’s a lot of distraction in communities, from children running around from home to home. Many trick-or-treaters come by car from other neighborhoods. Keep an eye on the roads this Halloween and practice safety by keeping children out of the street.
Urgent care is open on Halloween
Concerned about having a safe Halloween? Don’t worry; our urgent care centers are open in case your family needs assistance. We’re equipped to treat a wide range of injuries and illnesses.
If you need help assessing and treating an injury or accident, come see the experts at our urgent care partners. You can walk in without an appointment, or you can check in online. We’ll have you back to feeling better in no time.
Written by Sarah Thebarge, Physician Assistant