Halloween Safety Tips from the American Academy of Pediatrics
Plan costumes that are bright and reflective. Consider adding reflective tape or striping to costumes and trick-or-treat bags for greater visibility.
Make sure that shoes fit well, and that costumes are short enough to prevent tripping, entanglement, or contact with flame.
Look for “flame resistant” on the costume labels. Wigs and accessories should also clearly indicate this.
Consider non-toxic makeup and decorative hats as safer alternatives to masks. Makeup should be tested ahead of time on a small patch of your child’s skin to ensure there are no unpleasant surprises or allergic reactions on the big day. Toxic ingredients have been found in cosmetics marketed to teens and tweens.
Hats should fit properly to prevent them from sliding over eyes and blocking vision.
Avoid any sharp or long swords, canes, or sticks as a costume accessory. Your child can easily be hurt by these accessories if he or she stumbles or trips.
Do not use decorative contact lenses without an eye examination and a prescription from an eye care professional. While the packaging on decorative lenses will often make claims such as “one size fits all,” or “no need to see an eye specialist,” getting decorative contact lenses without a prescription is both dangerous and illegal. This can cause pain, inflammation, and serious eye disorders and infections, which may lead to permanent vision loss.
Celebrating your child’s 1st, 2nd, or 3rd Halloween?
Always have a “Plan B” costume. From leaky diapers to spit up to toilet training accidents, this age is always reason to pack a backup costume and plan for the unexpected.
If potty-training is still a new thing and there’s a narrow window between “I have to go” and an accident, you might want to rethink a complicated costume. There is also no harm in putting your child in an easy-on, easy-off diaper.
- Never allow small children to carve pumpkins. Children can draw a face with markers. Then parents can do the cutting. For the best control while carving, the American Society for Surgery of the Hand (AAHS) recommends adults use a small pumpkin saw (sold with other Halloween goods) in small strokes, directing the blade away from themself and others.
- The AAHS advises against using larger blades, which can become lodged in the pumpkin and cause injuries when pulled out.
- Consider using a flashlight or glow stick instead of a candle to light your pumpkin. If you do use a candle, a votive candle is safest.
- Do not place candlelit pumpkins on a porch or any path where visitors may pass close by. They should never be left unattended.
- Remove tripping hazards to keep your home safe for visiting trick-or-treaters.
- Keep the porch and front yard clear of anything a child could trip over such as garden hoses, toys, bikes, and lawn decorations.
- Check outdoor lights and replace burned-out bulbs.
- Sweep wet leaves from sidewalks and steps to prevent anyone from slipping on them.
- Restrain pets so they do not jump on or bite a trick-or-treater.
- Kids and animal bites
Although most animals are friendly, some can be dangerous. More than any other age group, children between the ages of 5 and 9 are the victims of animal bites―about 5% of all children this age are bitten by an animal every year. Children ages 9 to 14 are next in line as the most frequent victims of animal bites. As a parent, you have ultimate responsibility for your child’s safety around any animal―including your own pets, neighborhood pets, and wild animals.
Here are some suggestions to talk over with your child.
On the trick-or-treat trail
- To help protect children not yet eligible for COVID-19 vaccines, try to stick with outdoor trick-or-treating.
- Always accompany young children on their neighborhood rounds. If your older children are going alone, plan and review the route that is acceptable to you. Agree on a specific time when they should return home and get flashlights with batteries for everyone. If Halloween doesn’t start until after dark where you live and you have younger children, check with your town or park district for Halloween activities offered earlier in the day.
- Only go to homes with a porch light on.
- Never enter a home or car for a treat. Notify law enforcement authorities immediately about of any suspicious or unlawful activity.
- Review with children how to call 9-1-1 (or their local emergency number) if they ever have an emergency or become lost or is prone to wander. See “Help Prevent Your Child from Going Missing” for tips.
- Know how to reduce your child’s risk of a pedestrian injury―the most common injury to children on Halloween.
- Stay in a group and communicate where they will be going.
- Remember reflective tape for costumes and trick-or-treat bags.
- Carry a cell phone for quick communication.
- Remain on well-lit streets and always use the sidewalk.
- If no sidewalk is available, walk at the far edge of the roadway facing traffic.
- Never cut across yards or use alleys.
- Only cross the street as a group in established crosswalks (as recognized by local custom). Never cross between parked cars or out of driveways.
- Don’t assume the right of way. Motorists may have trouble seeing trick-or-treaters. Just because one car stops, doesn’t mean others will!
A message to parents of teen drivers
Before you let your child drive on Halloween, take precaution and set specific rules. Use our Parent-Teen Driving Agreement.
- Give your child a good meal prior to parties and trick-or-treating; this will discourage filling up on Halloween treats.
- Consider offering non-edible goodies to trick-or-treaters visiting your home. Halloween is one of the trickiest days of the year for children with food allergies. Food Allergy Research & Education’s Teal Pumpkin Project, which promotes safe trick-or-treating options for food-allergic children, suggests items such as glow sticks, spider rings, vampire fangs, pencils, bubbles, bouncy balls, finger puppets, whistles, bookmarks, stickers and stencils.
- Keep an eye on what your child has in their mouth at all times while on the trick-or-treat trail. Wait until children are home to sort and check treats. Though tampering is rare, it can happen. A responsible adult should closely examine all treats and throw away any spoiled, unwrapped, or suspicious items. Once your child is ready to enjoy treats at home, keep in mind that babies and toddlers should not have any hard candies, caramel apples, popcorn, gum, small candies (jelly beans, etc.), gummy candy, pumpkin seeds, or anything with whole nuts. Candy wrappers, stickers, small toys, or temporary tattoos can be a choking hazard, as well. As all parents know, babies and toddlers will put just about anything into their mouths!
- Try to ration treats for the days and weeks following Halloween. If you keep candy guidelines realistic, consistent, and positive, your Halloween is less likely to be about arguing or controlling candy. https://www.healthychildren.org/english/safety-prevention/all-around/pages/halloween-safety-tips.aspxMake a plan together so everyone knows what to expect. It’s also a great opportunity to teach your kids about moderation, balance, and healthful indulging.
Not scary enough? Food Safety News has put out its own list of Halloween hazards to avoid
Halloween has a different look in many communities this year. Outdoor Halloween parties, car trunk trick-or-treating events and more masks than ever are in the mix. With all these changes, it doesn’t hurt to brush up on some important food safety basics for Halloween festivities.
Food safety expert and Cornell Professor Emeritus of Food Science Dr. Robert “Bob” Gravani, gave Food Safety News some tips to keep your family safe from food poisoning this spooky season.
- No snacking: “Talk to your kids about the importance of not snacking on any of the goodies that they collect,” Gravani said. Parents should urge their children to wait until they get home and let an adult inspect their treats before they eat any of them. “Kids get so excited with this that it’s easy to want to take something out of your goodie bag and eat it on the way, but it behooves everyone to make sure those treats are safe.” Gravani suggests that “the first thing parents should do, is give their kids a light meal or snack before they go out trick-or-treating,” which will help stop their snacking.
- Safe treats: Children should not accept, and especially not eat, anything that isn’t commercially wrapped. “I would encourage parents and kids, not to take anything that isn’t commercially wrapped. With homemade snacks, you just don’t know where it was made or how it was made,” Gravani said. “When parents get home they should look for signs of any tampering, unusual appearance, discoloration or tears in the wrapping.”
- Food Allergies: Parents of children with food allergies should check the labels to ensure the allergen isn’t present. “If your child has any type of food allergy, parents should make sure the label is checked to make sure the specific allergen they have a problem with is not present,” Gravani said. “And again, don’t allow kids to eat home-baked products they might have received.”
- Choking hazards: Parents of young children should be sure to remove any choking hazards such as gum, peanuts, hard candies or small toys. “Parents should keep an eye out for candies that pose a choking hazard to young children,” Gravani said.
Halloween party food safety tips:
- Serve pasteurized drink juices and ciders: If you’re having a party at home, make sure you’re serving pasteurized juices and ciders. Unpasteurized juice or cider can contain harmful bacteria such as Salmonella. To stay safe, always serve pasteurized products at your parties.
- Hands off the raw cookie dough: “Sometimes people have kids involved in some sort of baking project, and it’s always tempting to eat or taste the raw batter, but that should be avoided,” Gravani explained. Raw cookie dough or cake batter that contains uncooked eggs or unbaked flour can harbor harmful bacteria such as Salmonella and E. coli.
- Keep food chilled before serving: Gravani told us that perishable foods should be chilled until serving time. These include finger sandwiches, cheese platters, fruit or tossed salads, cold pasta dishes with meat, poultry, or seafood and cream pies or cakes with whipped cream and cream-cheese frostings. “We need to make sure that we don’t leave perishable foods out for longer than two hours.”
- Let’s skip the bobbing for apple: Bobbing for apples is an all-time favorite Halloween game, but Gravani suggests finding a different activity or a variation of the game. “You can make apples out of construction paper and place a paperclip on them, write activities or games on them and then place them all in a bucket. Then you give the kids a stick or a line with a magnet on it, and have them fish for the apples and have them do the activity written on it.”
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