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  • Writer's pictureMaddie Cohen

Essential Halloween Safety Tips for Families

Halloween is less than a week away.

If you have kids, you may be planning on going trick-or-treating. This is a fun and fulfilling option—but you shouldn’t enjoy All Hallows’ Eve without a few safety precautions.

This post will outline some key tips for a safe and celebratory Halloween.

Pumpkin Carving Safety

Prepare your jack-o-lanterns for their front-stoop close-up, and consider the following recommendations:

  • Keep knives away from small children.

Young kids shouldn’t carve their own jack-o-lanterns, but they can certainly work on them. Give your child a marker and encourage them to draw a face on their pumpkin. You can take care of the rest. Older children and parents, meanwhile, should use a small pumpkin saw (available at most Halloween stores) for optimal carving control. Be sure to position the blade away from your body.

  • Skip the candles.

Flashlights and glowsticks are appealing alternatives to candles. In the name of fire safety, get creative in the way you light your jack-o-lanterns this year.

  • Never leave candlelit pumpkins unattended.

Since we’re not saying you can’t use candles, we’ll offer an important reminder. Never, under any circumstances, leave candlelit pumpkins unattended. This is crucial both inside and outside your home, but especially indoors.

Costume Safety

Is your whole family dressing up this year? This advice applies to everyone—but especially to your children:

  • Consider the fit.

We’re talking about the literal fit of your costume. Hats should be short enough not to obstruct your vision, while costumes should be short enough to prevent tripping.

  • Choose reflective costumes.

You want to be visible when you head out for the evening. Bright and reflective costumes—or the addition of reflective tape to your costume or treat bag—can go a long way here.

  • Prioritize flame resistance.

Check everyone’s costume label for the phrase “flame resistant.” It may sound like overkill, but we promise you it’s not. This small move will help keep your little ones safe.

  • Non-toxic makeup is key.

To reduce your risk of an allergy or other reaction, test all makeup ahead of time on the patch of each trick-or-treater’s skin. Steer clear of toxic ingredients.

  • Skip the contact lenses.

Decorative contact lenses can bring your costume to life—in theory. In reality, they require an eye exam and a prescription. Don’t jump the proverbial gun here.

  • Avoid sharp accessories.

Canes, wands, and swords with sharp or pointy edges are all well and good. That is, until an injury happens. Proceed with caution here, and be extra-careful when you accessorize.

Trick-or-Treating Safety

Here are some strategies for staying safe while collecting candy:

  • Don’t enter strangers’ homes.

Trick-or-treaters shouldn’t enter their neighbors’ homes unless they know the person extremely well and have express permission from their parents. Never, ever enter any strange cars.

  • Only accept wrapped treats.

For the sake of safety (and allergy prevention), only accept wrapped treats while trick-or-treating. Homebaked goods and open packages are a no-go.

  • Accompany young children.

Do your younger kids want free rein of the neighborhood like their older siblings? Not so fast. Always accompany young kids on their trick-or-treating rounds.

  • Give older kids a cell phone.

While older kids can usually trick-or-treat without a chaperone, you’ll want to make sure at least one person in the group has a cell phone. (Be sure to keep in contact and set a curfew for their safe return.)

  • Skip homes without a porch light on.

If the porch light isn’t on, chances are the occupant doesn’t want to see you or your children. Make sure the whole family knows to only visit homes with a visibly lit porch light.

  • Review pedestrian safety rules.

Pedestrian injuries are far too common on Halloween. With many groups of small children walking around in the dark, they’re bound to happen—but they can be prevented. Always be mindful of your surroundings, and stay on sidewalks at all times. If you do need to cross the street at any point, proceed with extreme caution in a designated crosswalk. And never assume that you have the right of way.

Home Safety

Are you preparing your home for other trick-or-treaters? Here are some additional safety tips to consider:

  • Address tripping hazards.

Quickly assess your front yard, stoop, and porch for safety hazards. If there’s something a child might trip over—for instance, a bike or garden hose—deal with it promptly.

  • Remove wet leaves from sidewalks.

Speaking of tripping hazards, be sure to sweep wet leaves from your front steps and sidewalk. Damp fall leaves are an unexpected but frequent source of Halloween injuries.

  • Check your outdoor lighting.

Even the best of us can be slow to replace a dead bulb. If you spot a burned-out exterior light, try to replace it before your trick-or-treaters arrive.

  • Restrain pets.

You don’t want your dog to jump on a trick-or-treater. You certainly don’t want your cat to escape. Gently restrain your pets if you are expecting trick-or-treaters.

Driving Safety

Some of us end up behind the wheel on Halloween. Here you’ll want to keep the following precautions in mind:

  • Stay sober.

This one’s a given no matter the time of year. However, with so many kids out and about, your sobriety is arguably even more important on Halloween. Don’t drink until you get home.

  • Put your phone away.

Texting and driving are a poor combination. On Halloween, you’ll want to quite literally put your phone away so that you can concentrate completely on your surroundings.

  • Slow down.

In driveways and parking lots in particular, you’ll want to drive extra-slow. Do not speed through unfamiliar areas or really anywhere on Halloween.

  • Keep an eye out for kids.

Trick-or-treating hours are generally between 5 p.m. and 10 p.m. If you’re driving during this time, you’ll want to be especially alert. Aim to focus entirely on the road.

  • Turn your headlights on early.

This will help you identify kids from greater distances. Your headlights will also increase visibility on busy curbs, medians, and intersections.

With these ideas in your toolkit, you should be able to have a safe and celebratory Halloween. Boo!

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