From the candy to the costumes, Halloween is a fun-filled time
for kids and parents alike. But it's also a holiday that can
pose dangers to young revelers. To help make this year's
festivity a trick-free treat, follow these simple safety tips:
Adorning Your Little Ghouls
- Choose a light-colored costume or add glow-in-the-dark tape
to the front and back of the costume so your kids can be easily
- Don't buy a costume unless it's labeled
"flame-retardant." This means the material won't
- Make sure wigs and beards don't cover
your kids' eyes, noses, or mouths.
- Don't let your children wear masks - they can make it
difficult for kids to see and breathe. Instead, use nontoxic face
paint or makeup. Have younger children draw pictures of what they
want to look like. Older kids will have fun putting the makeup on
- Put a name tag - with your phone number - on your
- Avoid oversized and high-heeled shoes that could cause kids
- Avoid long or baggy skirts, pants, or shirtsleeves that could
catch on something and cause falls.
- Make sure that any props your kids carry, such as wands
or swords, are flexible.
- Don't let kids handle knives. Have them draw their
designs on the face of the pumpkin with a black marker - then you
do the carving. And make sure you're using a sharp knife or a
mini-saw that's pointed away from your body.
- Keep kids at a safe distance while you're carving the
pumpkin so that they don't distract you or get in the way of
- Remove pumpkin guts safely. If your children beg to remove
the guts of the pumpkin - as many kids do - don't hand over a
knife to do it. Instead, let your little ones get messy by
scooping out pumpkin flesh with their hands or an ice cream
- Clean up your mess. Pumpkin flesh is slippery and can cause
falls and injuries when dropped on the floor. Layer newspaper or
old cloths under your carving workspace and clean up spills right
away so no one slips or trips.
- Skip the candles. A burning candle in a pumpkin may become a
blazing fire if left unattended. Instead, use a glow stick
(available in many colors) to safely illuminate your
- Accompany young children (under age 10) on their rounds. But
make sure they know their home phone number, the
cell phone numbers of parents and any other trusted adult
who's supervising, and how to call 9-1-1 in case they get
- For older kids who are trick-or-treating on their own, make
sure you approve of the route they'll be taking and know when
they'll be coming home. Also be sure that they:
- carry a cell phone, if possible
- go in a group and stay together
- only go to houses with porch lights on and walk
on sidewalks on lit streets (never walk through alleys or
- know to never go into strangers' homes or
- cross the street at crosswalks and never assume that
vehicles will stop
- Give kids flashlights with new batteries.
- Limit trick-or-treating to your neighborhood and the homes of
people you and your children know.
- When your kids get home, check all treats to make sure
they're safely sealed and there are no signs of tampering,
such as small pinholes, loose or torn packages, and packages that
appear to have been taped or glued back together. Throw out loose
candy, spoiled items, and any homemade treats that
haven't been made by someone you know.
- Don't allow young children to have hard candy or gum that
could cause choking.
- Make sure trick-or-treaters will be safe when visiting your
home, too. Remove lawn decorations, sprinklers, toys, bicycles,
wet leaves, or anything that might obstruct your walkway. Provide
a well-lit outside entrance to your home. Keep family pets away
from trick-or-treaters, even if they seem harmless to
Gobbling Down Halloween Goodies
- Offer a filling meal before your kids head out to
trick-or-treat so they won't scarf down too much of their
- Consider purchasing Halloween treats other than candy.
Stickers, erasers, crayons, pencils, coloring books, and sealed
packages of raisins and dried fruits are good choices.
- Know how much candy your kids have collected and store
it somewhere other than their bedrooms. Having it so handy can be
an irresistible temptation for many kids. Consider being somewhat
lenient about candy eating on Halloween, within reason, and talk
about how the rest of the candy will be handled. Kids who
generally eat just a couple of pieces and save the rest might be
trusted to decide how much to eat. But if your child tends to
overdo it, consider setting limits.
- Once your trick-or-treaters have returned with their
Halloween goodies, extend their bounty by letting them have
a treat or two a day instead of leaving candy out in
big bags or bowls for kids to sample at will.
Take these quick and easy precautions to help your little ghosts
and goblins have a hauntingly happy and safe Halloween.
Mary Gavin, MD
Date reviewed: October 2007
Note: All information is for educational purposes only. For specific medical advice,
diagnoses, and treatment, consult your doctor.
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