Halloween Safety Tips

Halloween should be a fun time for kids. Help keep everyone safe by following a few simple tips.

Halloween is a favorite holiday for many kids – they get to dress as their favorite characters and get treats! But it’s also a time that kids are at increased risk. Consider a few safety tips to help keep it safe for all of our kids.

Food allergies and other health conditions

First and foremost, many kids have medical reasons to not eat many of the treats they get on Halloween.

Keep these kids in mind and have non-food items to give out. Check out my post on Teal Pumpkins to learn more.

Before the big day

Clear your sidewalk of any potential hazards for trick-or-treaters, such as low hanging tree branches, toys, electrical cords, and other obstructions.

Get flashlights, pumpkin lights, or glow sticks for your Jack O Lanterns.

Let kids participate in pumpkin decorating according to their abilities.

  • Toddlers can paint pumpkins. Get creative with rhinestones and glitter.
  • Kids can help remove the seeds after an adult removes the top – though many don’t like the texture of the goo!
  • Let school aged kids help design the Jack O Lantern. An adult should do the carving until kids are mature enough to handle a knife safely. Kids can:
    • Trace a template or their own drawing onto the pumpkin.
    • Use cookie cutters to press into the pumpkin as a template to cut.
    • Try tools designed to punch out pumpkin pieces to create a fun Jack O Lantern – just search online for “Pumpkin Punch Decorating Kit” and look for kid-safe tools.
  • For more pumpkin decorating safety tips, see Safewise.

Trick-or-treating safely

At least one member of each trick-or-treating group should have a cell phone.

Feed kids before going out. This will help keep them from snacking on their treats before you have a chance to check them.

Adults should closely supervise young children.

Don’t force children to trick or treat if they’re not comfortable with it. This does not toughen them up. They can still participate by helping to decorate or by handing out treats.

Talk to older kids about safety as they earn the responsibility to go out with friends.

  • They should know the boundaries in which they can roam.
  • Be clear on when they should check in and when to be home.
  • Do not go to homes without a porch light or otherwise decorated to show they are participating.
  • It should be understood that they should never enter a home without your knowledge.
  • Only accept hand made treats from people you know.
  • Kids should always stick with their group and not fall behind or run ahead of the group.
  • Respect property and people. Be mindful of younger trick-or-treaters and stay out of their way. Don’t try to frighten them and let them go first. Say “thank you” and be polite. Trick or treating does not give permission to trick others. They should respect peers who might be afraid of a haunted house or other things on Halloween and not pressure them to do things they don’t want to do. No one should make fun of anyone for being scared.

If you’re driving, be very attentive to parked cars and other objects that could limit your view of kids about to go into the street.

Keep your own pets safely away from the crowds and watch your kids around unfamiliar animals.

Costume safety

Add reflective tape to costumes to help visibility in the dark.

Masks can hinder the ability to see well – use makeup instead. Test a small patch of skin in advance to be sure your child’s skin isn’t sensitive to it.

Kids can carry a lighted trick-or-treat bucket, wand, or other accessory or wear a glow stick bracelet or necklace.

Avoid costumes that are too long and increase the risk of tripping.

Weather is unpredictable. Make sure you can add layers if it’s cold or remove layers if it’s warm.

If kids are going to be walking for trick-or-treating, be sure their feet will be comfortable and their shoes safe. Plastic costume heels are not safe for our little princesses!

If a sword, magic wand, or other accessory is part of the costume, make sure it’s not sharp or too long for them to safely carry. Talk to kids about how to safely carry it so they don’t accidentally hit other people. Leave it at home if you think they would tire of carrying it or if it could be mistaken for a real threat.

Do not use contact lenses unless they’re prescribed by an eye specialist.

Be safe on Halloween! @pediatricskc

For more

See the following AAP Healthy Children pages: Halloween Safety Tips and Decorative Contact Lenses: What Teens and Parents Need to Know.

Teal Pumpkin Project

Teal pumpkins have been popping up during the Halloween season in recent years, yet many people don’t know what they really mean. Displaying a teal pumpkin means that your home has non-food items available for the little goblins and superheroes as they come looking for treats.

Why is this important?

Because what child likes to be left out of the fun of Trick or Treating?

When a child has severe food allergies, diabetes, or another condition that limits the types of foods he or she can eat, they are often left out of class parties and trick or treating.

What can you do to support these kids?

Show parents that you are giving kids the option of a safe treat by displaying a teal pumpkin.

There are many non-food treats that kids would love ~ stickers, pencils, glow sticks, bubbles, plastic jewelry, vampire teeth, pencil toppers, hair pieces, magic trick cards, and many more. Be sure you have some that are safe for toddlers.

Why non-food things? Can’t we just avoid nuts?

Non-food items are better than nut-free because kids have allergies to all kinds of things, and it is impossible to know in advance what all those allergies are.

When kids must limit their overall sugar intake, non-food treats rule.

What about the kids who want candy?

Just because you offer non-food items, it doesn’t mean that you can’t also give candy.

Simply let kids know you have both options and ask which they prefer. Keep two containers: one of candy and one of non-food items.

How do you get a teal pumpkin?

We put together some reusable teal pumpkins at my office several years ago. My initial plan was to spray paint some plastic pumpkins, but decided to use Duct tape to cover plastic pumpkins instead. Duct tape has less smell. We didn’t have to wait for them to dry, and if we ever want to use them outside, they will be fairly weather-proof. They’ve held up well over the years.

Pretty cute, huh?

Let people know you’re participating!

Share this idea with your neighbors and friends. Use social media. Put a note in your neighborhood bulletin. Share with your school nurse. Ask stores to display a flyer.

Kids have to know what the pumpkin means. Display signs as well as your pumpkin letting them know you have non-food options as well as candy.

Register as a site that will offer non-food items on FoodAllergy.org.

For more information and a free printable flyer (like the one pictured in our office above), ideas on what to provide, and more information in general, see The Teal Pumpkin Project.

Use a teal pumpkin to show kids with medical conditions that you have non-food items this Halloween!