10 Safety Tips for a Spooktacular Halloween
Although Halloween has traditionally been a holiday focused on acts of mischief and mayhem, there’s no need to endanger yourself or your family in the process. Whether you’re taking your children trick-or-treating yourself, or sending them off with friends for the first time, there are always ways to mitigate potential hazards and ensure a safe and enjoyable holiday for all. Here are some of our best safety tips to ensure a fun, adventurous, and Spooktacular Halloween this year.
1. Ensure your child’s costume is safe and warm
Depending on where you live, the weather on Halloween can be warm and balmy, even in the evening, or snowy and cold. The first way that you can ensure that your child is prepared for Halloween is to ensure that their costume is suitable for the weather, or can be worn over cold-weather clothing. Children growing up in the northern half of the country should already be resigned to the fact that all of their costumes need to be able to fit over a snowsuit.
If your child is going trick-or-treating in the evening, it’s a good idea to ensure that there are reflective strips or panels on their costume, especially if it’s made of a dark material. This makes it easier for cars to see them in the dark. Other costume hazards include hanging fabric pieces and long hemlines that can easily trip your child.
2. Avoid wearing masks
Another costume hazard that can be dangerous for children who are trick-or-treating outside in the dark is a mask. Not only does it prevent you from identifying your child quickly, it also obscures their vision. Even if they claim that they can see through the eye-holes, it limits their peripheral vision, which can lead to accidents if they’re unable to see approaching cars.
Even masks that don’t cover the entire head it can limit their vision enough for it to be dangerous. Instead of wearing a mask, use non-toxic body paint to paint your child’s face into an illusion that matches their costume. There are tons of tutorials online that can help you get started, even if you’re not a confident artist. If your child does want to wear a mask, consider using a partial-face mask made of fabric, which conforms to their face and allows unobstructed vision.
3. If your child is going out with peers, ensure they’re going in a group of three or more
Most children will eventually outgrow trick-or-treating with their parents, and will instead ask to venture out with friends. If they’re old enough, and you feel they’re responsible enough to go out with their peers, make sure that they’re going in a group of three or more. These larger groups of children are more visible on the streets, and are less likely to be approached by strangers.
If your child is with a group, make sure that at least one of them has a cell-phone, and ensure they have their home phone number memorized. Established a protocol for what they should do if they want to leave the group, or need to come home.
4. Avoid crossing back and forth across the street
Although we always assume that it’s children who don’t know basic road safety, it never hurts to remind adults as well — we’re so used to driving cars that we often need reminders of the most basic pedestrian rules. When you’re trick-or-treating with children, make sure that you’re sticking to one side of the road, crossing at a well-lit cross-walk (if there’s one available), and going back down the other side. That way, you can minimize the number of times that you cross the road. If you can, take your child out earlier in the evening, so there’s still some light left, which will make it easier for approaching cars to see you.
5. Stay on the sidewalk at all times
Even if you live in a rural area, where there are fewer sidewalks, you should ensure that you’re using the sidewalk whenever possible, and avoiding streets where you’ll have to walk on the road. It can be extremely difficult to see small people who are walking on the road, especially if they’re wearing a dark costume. Avoid the shoulder of the road whenever possible.
Children who are going in groups without adults should be encouraged to use sidewalks, and stay on a route that takes them through these well-lit areas, rather than deviating to darker, unmarked roads. If you’re in a car on Halloween, it’s a good idea to drive slowly and with excessive care — it’s a lot easier to stop suddenly if you’re only going 25 miles an hour.
6. Use a flashlight
Another way to ensure that your group is seen by passing cars is to carry a flashlight or glow-stick at all times. A flash-light is preferable, as it can be used to light uneven sidewalks and paths up to houses. Many houses light their yards with lanterns and candles to make a spookier ambience, but the result is that paths that are usually well-lit are filled with shadows. If you’re going with young children, they may find it difficult to find their way around, even if they’ve visited the house before. A flashlight should help them find their way.
There are tons of Halloween themed flashlights and lanterns that can be found online, which may be more festive. Make sure the flashlights are equipped with fresh batteries before your group goes out — if the last time they were used was the year before, there’s a good chance that the battery’s charge won’t last the night.
7. Never go inside a stranger’s house
Even if your child is older, and has gone trick-or-treating in a group without adults before, it never hurts to remind them that under no circumstances should they ever step inside a stranger’s house. This may be confusing to some children, who aren’t able to separate the fact that they’re going up to the house, but shouldn’t go inside. Ideally, your children should only be trick-or-treating in areas that they know well, especially if they’re going out without parents. Most people will bring baskets of candy to the front door, and should have no reason to invite children inside. Even if you’re with your children, and are invited into a stranger’s home to wait while they get the treats, kindly ask to wait outside and if they insist, leave immediately.
8. Set a curfew for children going out alone
If your child is going out trick-or-treating with friends, or even if they’re attending a party, make a curfew and insist that they stick to it. Even if your child doesn’t normally have a set curfew. Halloween is one of a few nights where it’s beneficial to have a set time when they’re expected home. There are so many people out and about, and it’ll be easier if there are clear expectations as to when your child should be home. In order to ensure their safety, make sure they have a cell-phone with them, so they can get in touch if there are any issues.
9. Establish a pre-planned route, and ask children to call you if they want to deviate from that
Even if your child is older, and is going trick-or-treating with a large group of their friends, it is useful to have a route established in advance. This way, you can approve their route in advance, and ensure that you know where they are at all times. Make sure that they know that if they want to deviate from the planned route, they should check with you first.
10. Candy should be checked by an adult before consumption
In the 1980s, a myth about poisoned candy, and apples with embedded razors started making its way around the United States. Although almost all of the reports related to the myth were discredited, it has led to an ongoing distrust of Halloween candy. Even though this myth has been debunked, it doesn’t hurt to take a look at your child’s candy before they consume anything — especially if they have any food allergies. Make sure that the wrappers are intact, and discard anything that isn’t commercially packaged or looks damaged.