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Keep your kids safe during Halloween with these 27 tips

Halloween is a relatively safe holiday, in most cases far removed from the nightmares we see on the big and small screens. Still, in this climate it is better to be safe than sorry, and a few precautions can make all the difference between a memorable night and one you’d like to forget.

We’ve compiled a list of 27 simple but important Halloween safety tips for trick-or-treating and beyond.

Traffic safety

Pedestrian accidents are the most common cause of injury to children on Halloween. Observe these basic rules of the road to steer clear of trouble.

  • Keep a safe distance between groups. Always ensure that all members of your group are following appropriate safety protocols and practices for your area.
  • Never leave children unattended.
  • Walk in groups and communicate.
  • Carry a mobile device for quick and easy communication.
  • Stay on sidewalks and lighted streets at all times. If there are no sidewalks, walk against traffic.
  • Don’t cut through unfamiliar yards or alleys.
  • Cross streets only at crosswalks, and don’t cross between parked cars or through driveways.
  • Never assume a motorist sees you or is giving you the right of way.

Motorist safety

Traffic safety is a two-way street. Drivers who are out and about on Halloween night also bear plenty of responsibility. Here are some tips for avoiding disaster.

  • Never drive after consuming drugs or alcohol.
  • Be on the lookout for children dressed in dark clothing.
  • Watch for children on roadways, medians, and curbs.
  • Enter and exit driveways and alleys with care.
  • New or less-experienced drivers should not drive on Halloween.

Costume safety

Halloween costumes have a lot of moving parts — sometimes literally. Loose-fitting garments and accessories can pose a variety of safety risks. Here are some things to keep in mind as you ready your kids for the witching hour:

  • Visibility. A simple glow stick or necklace can get the job done. So can reflective tape or Halloween bags. Anything that helps motorists more easily spot your trick-or-treaters will improve safety in the streets.
  • Flame resistance. Always check product labels before purchasing a costume or any costume component. Garments, wigs, and accessories all have the potential to be a fire hazard — especially around the open flames found in jack-o’-lanterns and other places.
  • Weapons. Avoid long, sharp, or “real” swords or other items as costume accessories. Accidents can happen in trick-or-treating groups or during horseplay.

Pumpkin-carving safety

Emergency room visits increase around Halloween, in part because of cuts and lacerations related to pumpkin carving. Here are some tips to ensure a smooth process:

  • Use a pumpkin-carving kit. Most kits include a small, serrated saw blade that cuts through a pumpkin’s hard outer wall without snagging or catching.
  • Never allow children to assist in carving the pumpkins. Instead, they can help sketch out the design or scoop out the goopy innards.
  • While carving, kids and grownups alike should move slowly and use controlled movements.
  • Go with a battery-operated light instead of an actual candle. If you want the spooky flicker of an open flame, pick up some special tea lights that mimic the effect.
  • A pumpkin’s outer surface can get slimy as the carving goes on. Keep a towel on hand to wipe down knife blades and handles and the pumpkin itself.

Tips for older children

Children sometimes trick-or-treat well into their preteen and tween years — well past the age when they’d ever want to be seen with their parents. If you do allow them to trick-or-treat independently, follow these simple rules.

  • Plan and review a route acceptable to you both.
  • Agree on a curfew.
  • Teach your children never to enter a stranger’s home or car.
  • Instruct children to travel only in familiar, lighted areas and stick with their friends.
  • Remind them to put down their devices and keep their heads up.
  • Advise them to refrain from running, especially in the street.

The overwhelming majority of Halloween celebrations are safe and fun for all involved — far from the feverish nightmares of slasher films and sensationalist news coverage. Nevertheless, when children are out and about at night and mischief is in the air, following a few simple rules of the road will help avoid an unpleasant end to the evening — or worse.

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Scott Harris
Scott Harris is a freelance writer based near Washington, DC, with more than a decade of experience covering health…
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