Tips for Halloween safety

October 24, 2008

With Halloween just around the neighborhood corner, kids are undoubtedly looking forward to participating in time-honored traditions of the season: wearing costumes, ringing doorbells, and perhaps most fun of all, eating lots of candy. But Halloween has also been a time of concern for parents worried about sick stomachs and trick-or-treating safety.

With Halloween just around the neighborhood corner, kids are undoubtedly looking forward to participating in time-honored traditions of the season: wearing costumes, ringing doorbells, and eating lots of candy. But Halloween has also been a time of concern for parents worried about sick stomachs and trick-or-treating safety.

Below are some Halloween-related tips from national organizations that parents may find useful to keep in mind:

Trick-or-treating safety
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend, among other points, that kids eat only factory-wrapped treats, and that they should avoid eating homemade treats unless the cook is well-known to the family. The CDC also recommends that parents should limit the amount of candy kids eat.

Further safe trick-or-treating tips, from Prevent Blindness America, include:

  • Jack-o-lanterns should be placed in areas where trick-or-treaters or Halloween party guests won't be able to trip over them or have costumes brush up against them. All tripping hazards should be removed from sidewalks and porches.


  • Make sure costumes are made of flame-retardant material.


  • Wear bright, reflective clothing or decorate costumes and bags with reflective tape/patches. Carry a bright flashlight to improve visibility.


  • Always accompany children while trick-or-treating. Only go to houses you are familiar with, and only visit homes that have the porch light on.


  • Carefully examine all trick-or-treat items for signs of tampering before allowing children to eat them. Inspect any toys or novelty items received by kids age 3 and younger as they may pose a choking hazard.


  • Never wear costumes that could block vision such as some masks, wigs, hats or eye patches.


  • Always wear hypoallergenic or non-toxic make-up. Only adults should apply the make-up to children and remove it with cold cream or eye make-up remover instead of soap.


  • False eyelashes should only be applied and removed according to the manufacturers instructions on the products package.


  • Avoid props or accessories that have sharp edges or pointed ends such as pitchforks, spears, knives, swords or wands.

Cell phone use
In addition to traditional trick-or-treating safety tips, 411wireless.org and the COMCARE Emergency Response Alliance also recommend that children carry a prepaid or other cell phone technology when out hunting for treats, so that they can stay in touch with parents in case of emergencies. These organizations' recommendations include:

  • Pre-program a child’s cell phone with all important phone numbers, including home, office and related cell phone numbers. The child should know how to find these pre-programmed numbers in his or her phone and then how to place a call using a pre-programmed number.


  • For non-emergency situations on Halloween, parents should tell children to call home if they become separated from the group or lost.


  • Parents should also explain that an emergency will require dialing 9-1-1. Parents should explain that "emergency" for 9-1-1 means threat to body or life, or "afraid you will be hurt."


  • Parents who are not trick-or-treating with their children should get the contact information for the chaperone(s). Parents who are one of the chaperones should have have contact information for the other adults.


  • For older trick-or-treaters who may be subject to less supervision, parents should also establish a periodic check-in time.