Halloween is just around the corner! The holiday should be fun for you and your family, but avoiding danger is also important.
No matter what kids decide to wear, a safety plan will keep the night going smoothly and keep your little pumpkins happy.
“Halloween is really fun,” says Barb Gaines, MD, associate surgeon in chief and clinical director, Pediatric General and Thoracic Surgery, UPMC Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh. “Allow the kids to enjoy themselves because it is really fun and it’s one of those few days that’s set aside for kids.”
As you get ready to take your little one out for trick-or-treating this Halloween, keep these tips in mind. Planning ahead will ensure that you both have an enjoyable and safe time.
Halloween Safety Tip 1: Remember Street Safety
You might see ghosts, goblins, and vampires when you’re out trick-or-treating. But the real danger is something much more common: a car. Children are more than twice as likely to be hit by a vehicle and killed on Halloween, according to the National Safety Council.
Trick-or-treaters, chaperones, and drivers all should stay aware during trick-or-treat hours.
- Look both ways before crossing the street. It’s good advice at all times, but especially on Halloween. Make sure the coast is clear before you try crossing the street. “The rules of the road still apply during Halloween,” Dr. Gaines says. “So you have to stop, and you have to look both ways before you cross the street.”
- Wear reflective clothing. Trick-or-treating often takes place in the dark. So think about including a reflective element on your child’s costume so drivers can see them. You also can carry a flashlight. “There are all these Darth Vaders walking around,” Dr. Gaines says. “They’re dark, and it’s dark outside, and it’s really hard to see them. So give them a lightsaber so that people can see them.”
- If you’re driving, be aware. Dr. Gaines says if possible, you should try to avoid driving during trick-or-treat hours. But if you do have to be on the road, stay vigilant. “There are kids all over the place, they’re excited, and they’re not doing what they’re supposed to do,” Dr. Gaines says. “My biggest message for Halloween safety is if you’re driving, expect that a kid is going to dart out between a car at any moment.”
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Halloween Safety Tip 2: Consider the Costume
In addition to wearing something reflective, it’s important to think about other elements of the costume. Trips and falls can happen because your child can’t see or move correctly in their costume. So here are some pieces of costume advice:
- See that masks fit properly and don’t obstruct eyesight or airways. Consider non-toxic makeup, instead.
- Ensure shoes and costumes fit to avoid falls.
- Avoid costume accessories that could easily cause harm, such as swords or canes.
- Place emergency identification information discreetly inside the clothing of small children.
Halloween Safety Tip 3: Chaperone Young Children
If your children are 12 and under, you or another adult should chaperone them during trick-or-treating. Even older children can benefit from having an adult near them while trick-or-treating, even if the adult is in the background.
“Let the kids have the opportunity to experience a little bit of independence,” Dr. Gaines says. “But, perhaps you can have a parent somewhere in the background just to make sure that they don’t end up having an issue.”
Halloween Safety Tip 4: Stick to Familiar Spots
As tempting as it might be to go to as many houses as you can, you should stay close to your neighborhood or familiar places. Halloween is not the time to visit places you don’t know.
To avoid potential safety problems:
- Trick-or-treaters should never enter a stranger’s home or car.
- Go to well-lit houses.
- Don’t go off alone in unfamiliar neighborhoods.
Dr. Gaines also advises carrying a charged cell phone with you. If older children are trick-or-treating without an adult, they also should have a cell phone.
“Having kids be able to get in touch with someone rapidly if they do get into a situation where they’re not comfortable is important,” she says.
Halloween Safety Tip 5: Be Candy-Conscious
Some people try to be creative when handing out Halloween treats. But as tempting as a popcorn ball might be, it’s best to stick with securely wrapped treats. Watch for signs of candy that has been tampered with.
“Anything that’s not in a wrapper, unless you absolutely know where it came from, just throw it away,” Dr. Gaines says.
If your child has food allergies, keep those in mind. Read the ingredients of anything they get. And young trick-or-treaters should avoid gum, hard candies, and other potential choking hazards.
And finally: Don’t overindulge! As much as your child might want to eat their candy all in one night, that isn’t good for them. Eat a healthy meal before going out, and limit their candy intake to make sure they don’t get sick.
At UPMC Children’s, we hope you and your kids can enjoy a safe and happy Halloween. To learn more about the care we provide, visit us online.
Editor's Note: This article was originally published on , and was last reviewed on .
From nutrition to illnesses, from athletics to school, children will face many challenges growing up. Parents often will make important health care decisions for them. We hope to help guide both of you in that journey. UPMC Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh is a national leader in pediatric care, ranking consistently on U.S. News & World Report’s Best Children’s Hospitals Honor Roll. We provide expert treatment for pediatric diseases, along well-child visits, urgent care, and more. With locations across Pennsylvania, Maryland, and West Virginia, you can find world-class care close to home. We also work closely with UPMC Magee-Womens Hospital, a national leader in care for newborns and their mothers. Our goal is to provide the best care for your children, from birth to adulthood and beyond. Visit our website to find a doctor near you.