Halloween is approaching, which means your kids will be transforming into little ghosts and ghouls for an exciting night of trick or treating. The holiday is a highlight for many children, but parents should follow some “spooktacular” Halloween safety tips to ensure the night is both safe and fun.
Halloween safety tips to consider span the range from trick or treating and carving pumpkins safely, to preparing your home and kids for Halloween. We’ve also got some trick or treating alternatives to share.
Read on for five Halloween safety tips and tricks that will help keep your kids safe this October.
- Trick or treating safely
Whether your child is going trick or treating with their friends, or accompanied by an adult, it’s always a good idea to review some Halloween safety tips before the kids hit the streets.
- Costumes: Does your child’s costume pass the safety test? Costumes should be labeled flame resistant, and should include a good pair of walking shoes. Attach reflective tape to costumes and treat bags, and have your child carry a flashlight. Don’t let kids wear masks that obstruct their vision, and make sure costumes don’t drag or pose a tripping hazard.
- Walking: Go over the rules on how to behave while trick or treating, including never accepting rides from a stranger. Kids should walk, not run, between houses. Tell them to stay on sidewalks when possible, and don’t walk close to candles or other flames that could ignite costumes.
- Houses: Advise your kids not to approach houses that aren’t well lit, and to never enter homes when trick or treating, unless they are with an adult who says it is okay. Children should stay on lit paths and walkways—don’t cut through yards or dark alleys.
- Candy: While it’ll be hard for some children to resist the temptation a bag of candy provides, ask them not to eat their candy until they’ve gotten home and mom or dad has had a chance to look it over. (Parents, serving a snack or dinner before trick or treating can take the edge off candy cravings.) Tell kids not to eat any candy that isn’t packaged, and say “no thanks” to any homemade treats from strangers.
It’s a good idea in the days and weeks leading up to Halloween to go over these rules with your kids. Talk about Halloween safety tips and set clear expectations for their behavior on Halloween.
- Trick or treating without an adult
When your child is older, they’ll likely start asking to ditch mom or dad to trick or treat with a group of friends. Age 10 is usually a good benchmark for children to reach before venturing out on Halloween without an adult, though it all depends on your child’s maturity level and your comfort level with letting them out alone.
If your child is heading out without an adult, follow these Halloween safety tips:
- Make sure your child is wearing a watch, and set a curfew for when they should return home.
- Provide your child with a flashlight or glow stick, for them to see better, and for drivers to better see them.
- Ask your child who they are trick or treating with, and make sure it is a group of at least three kids or more.
- Discuss in advance which streets and neighborhoods they’ll be visiting. Set any parameters for their route.
- Give your child a cell phone for the night, to call if they need a ride or in case of an emergency.
Encourage your child to have fun, but to make smart decisions and be responsible.
- Pumpkin carving
Don’t let your gourd, rather, guard, down when it comes to making creative or scary jack o’ lanterns. Carving pumpkins is a fun Halloween tradition, but must be done safely to avoid a trip to the emergency room due to a bad cut or worse.
Follow these pumpkin-carving safety tips to ensure everyone has a good time:
- Use a pumpkin carving kit, not a kitchen knife. Kits contain tools less sharp and smaller than kitchen knives, and are able to cut through the pumpkin rind while posing less of a threat to hands.
- Hold the top of the pumpkin and point the blade down as you saw.
- Don’t put your hand inside the pumpkin while cutting it.
- Wipe pumpkins off if they get slippery while carving.
Parents, use your best judgment when carving pumpkins. Kids can have fun helping scoop out the gooey pumpkin seeds, but until they are older, it is best to leave the actual carving to an adult.
- Preparing your home
Don’t just pay attention to your child’s safety on Halloween. Turn a critical eye to the outside of your home, and any hazards that may be present. Do this during the day, so you’ll be able to see that your yard is Halloween-ready for trick or treaters.
Homeowners’ Halloween safety quiz:
- Is your yard free of hoses, ladders, gardening tools, or other objects kids could trip over?
- Is your pet secured inside the house?
- Are your walkways and driveway well lit?
- Are your outdoor lights bright enough? Replace any burnt-out bulbs.
- Is your porch or front steps free of any objects kids might trip over?
- Are there wet leaves in the driveway or walkway? Rake them up in advance.
Be a responsible homeowner and the neighborhood kids will hopefully thank you by saving their toilet paper rolls and eggs for another house!
Halloween is probably the one day of the year when you can open your door safely to people. Learn 9 things you should never do when opening your front door for non-Halloween days and nights.
- Trick or treating alternatives
Trick or treating isn’t always a reality for everyone, especially those who live on busy roads or in urban areas that aren’t safe for kids at night. No matter, there are still ways for your children to enjoy Halloween.
If you’re looking for trick or treating alternatives, consider these options:
- Look for Halloween parties, dances, or other gatherings being held at schools, or community or recreation centers.
- Some malls or shopping centers offer trick or treat nights for kids.
- Get together with a few other parents and plan a Halloween party for your kids.
- Plan a fun, Halloween-themed night in with your kids, including games, a movie, and treats. Invite friends to take part, or even sleep over.
Whatever you choose to do on Halloween, have fun and stay safe!