Top Tips for Halloween Safety

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From costumes to decorating and trick-or-treating, Dr. Max Coppes of Renown Children’s Hospital shares some simple tips to keep your little ghouls and goblins safe on Halloween.

Halloween is one of the most-anticipated nights of the year for kids: the costumes, the decorations, and of course, the candy. Max Coppes, MD, MBA, physician-in-chief of Renown Children’s Hospital, shares some safety tips from the American Academy of Pediatrics.

Dr. Max Coppes, physician-in-chief, Renown Children’s Hospital; chair and Nell J. Redfield Professor of Pediatrics, UNR Med

Dressing Up

  • Plan costumes that are bright and reflective. Ensure shoes fit well and that costumes are short enough to prevent tripping, get tangled or come into contact with flames. 
  • Consider adding reflective tape or striping to costumes and trick-or-treat bags for greater visibility.
  • Masks can limit or block eyesight. Consider instead non-toxic makeup and hats, which should fit properly to prevent from sliding over eyes. Test makeup ahead of time on a small patch of skin to test for allergies before full application.
  • When shopping for costumes, wigs and accessories, look for and purchase those with a label clearly indicating they are flame resistant.
  • If a sword, cane or stick is a part of your child’s costume, make sure it is not sharp or long. A child may be easily hurt by these accessories if he 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,” obtaining decorative contact lenses without a prescription is both dangerous and illegal. This can cause pain, inflammation, serious eye disorders and infections, which may lead to permanent vision loss.
  • Review with children how to call 9-1-1 (or their local emergency number) if they ever have an emergency or become lost.

Carving Pumpkins

  • Leave the carving to the grownups. Have children draw the pumpkin design with markers, but keep knives away.
  • 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.
  • Candlelit pumpkins should be placed on a sturdy table, away from curtains and other flammable objects, and not on a porch or any path where visitors may pass close by. They should never be left unattended.

Prepping Your Home

  • Keep your entryway safe for trick-or-treaters: Remove all items from the porch or front yard that a child could trip over, like garden hoses, toys, bikes and lawn decorations.
  • To ensure visibility, check outdoor lights and replace burned-out bulbs.
  • Sweep leaves (or snow!) from sidewalks and steps.
  • If there are dogs in the home, take steps to ensure they don’t inadvertently jump on trick-or-treaters.

Hunting for Treats

  • Young children should always be accompanied by a parent or responsible adult. 
  • Give each child and adult a flashlight (with fresh batteries).
  • If older children are heading out to trick-or-treat alone, plan and review a route you can agree on, as well as a specific time they are supposed to return home. 
  • Only visit homes with a lit porch light. Never enter a home or a car for a treat.
  • Law enforcement authorities should be notified immediately of any suspicious or unlawful activity.
  • And because pedestrian injuries are the most common injuries to children on Halloween, remind youngsters to always:
    • Stay in a group and communicate where they will be going.
    • Remember reflective tape for costumes and trick-or-treat bags.
    • Carry a cellphone 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. Never cross between parked cars.
    • Don’t assume the right of way. Motorists may have trouble seeing trick-or-treaters. 

Tips for a Healthy (or Healthier) Halloween

  • Serving a healthy meal prior to trick-or-treating or parties will make hungry goblins less likely to fill up on too many treats. 
  • Consider offering non-food treats for visitors, like coloring books, glow sticks (which can help with visibility when worn), pens and pencils.
  • Wait until children are home to sort and check treats. Though tampering is rare, a responsible adult should closely examine all treats and throw away any spoiled, unwrapped or suspicious items.
  • Try to ration treats for the days and weeks following Halloween. Some organizations accept donations of Halloween candy as well. 

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