Family Health: Keep kids safe on Halloween

Here’s a Halloween quiz. Which of these risks should trick-or-treaters watch out for? Choose all that apply.

  • Poisoned apples
  • Catching fire
  • Werewolves and/or vampires
  • Being hit by a car
  • An upset stomach

Okay, the upset stomach is a giveaway, and being hit by a car is always a risk for kids walking the streets at night. But did you check catching fire? Many costumes are made of fabric that quickly burns when it contacts an open flame – such as a candle in a pumpkin (Hint: use a glow stick instead of a candle.)

The threat of poisoned apples, or any treat with a toxic substance or sharp object in it, is always on parents’ minds. Be assured that this is rare, but it’s still smart to look over kids’ treats closely before they eat it. Throw out anything that is spoiled, unwrapped or looks suspicious.

To cover all your bases, follow these additional Halloween safety tips from the American Academy of Pediatrics.

Dress for success – and safety

Halloween costumes are a great way for kids – and adults – to be creative. Make sure they are also safe.

  • Choose costumes, including wigs and accessories, that are flame-resistant. If the label doesn’t say the item is flame-resistant, don’t buy it.
  • Go with light- or bright-colored costumes that can be seen in the dark. Avoid long dresses, capes or other clothing that can get be a tripping hazard or contact an open flame.
  • Add some reflective tape to the costumes and trick-or-treat bags.
  • Consider using non-toxic makeup or face paint instead of masks, which can block vision.
  • Give each kid a flashlight or glow stick. That will help them see and be seen by drivers.

Be street wise

More kids are hit by cars on Halloween than any other day of the year. The best way to keep children under age 12 safe is to go along with them. Responsible older kids may be OK trick-or-treating on their own, but make sure they know to:

  • Stick to familiar areas that are well-lit. Plan the route together.
  • Go only to homes with a porch light on.
  • Stay on the sidewalk. If there is no sidewalk, kids should walk at the far edge of the road facing traffic.
  • Cross streets as a group at established crosswalks, never from between parked cars.
  • Carry a cellphone. You can have your kids check in with you at an appointed time, or you can call them.

Drive carefully

Anyone who drives on Halloween night must be extra careful. Excited kids – possibly dressed in black – may dart into the road. Trick-or-treaters may be out before dark and stay until late. Drive more slowly than usual and:

  • Turn on your headlights, even if it’s not yet dark.
  • Watch for kids at intersections and on medians and curbs.
  • At alleys and driveways, enter and exit slowly and carefully.
  • Don’t let your attention wander to your cellphone or another distraction.

Manage the sugar

You may be able to keep your kids from binging on candy by filling them up with healthy food before they go out trick-or-treating. It can also work to ration the treats over the days following Halloween.

You can find more Halloween safety tips by visiting Safe Kids Worldwide at safekids.org.