No Tricks, All Treats: Expert Advice on Keeping Kids Safe on Halloween


Halloween’s right around the corner, and while you’re prepping pumpkins for carving, putting together creative costumes and coordinating trick-or-treating plans, there’s one more detail to remember: safety. 

By Elaine Cudnik, APRN

Halloween is an awesome time for kids, from carefully selecting their costume to collecting as many treats as their tick-or-treat bag will hold. And with adequate preparation and attention to safety, parents can avoid some of the dangers associated with Halloween, including pedestrian injuries.

Tips for Trick-or-Treating

Supervision is the first step to ensuring your child is safe on Halloween.

  • Children under the age of 12 should always trick-or-treat with an adult.
  • Keep your children on sidewalks, pedestrian walkways or well-lit paths.
  • Remind your children to look both ways before crossing the street, preferably at corners and using crosswalks.
  • Make your child visible to drivers with reflective tape, brightly colored costumes, glow sticks or flash lights.

If you have older children who will be trick-or-treating on their own, remind them of safety practices as well.

  • Travel in a group and on a pre-defined route that has been agreed-upon between you and your child.
  • Make sure you set a specific time for your child to return home. Carrying a cell phone allows for quick communication, but remind them to keep their heads up while walking.
  • Regardless of the age of your trick-or-treater, remind all children to only approach homes that have the porch light on and never enter a stranger’s home.

Safer Costumes: See and Be Seen

Picking out a costume can be a highlight of your child’s Halloween, but parents need to consider safety features as an important part of the selection process. It is important for your child to see and to be seen. Avoid masks that could block his/her field of vision and apply reflective tape or striping to costumes and bags to make your child more visible to others.

  • Avoid long or baggy costumes that can easily be stepped on or tripped over.
  • Stay away from sharp objects. Your little pirate’s sword or fairy’s wand should be flexible without sharp objects attached that could hurt them or someone else.
  • Pay attention to fire safety and only buy flame-retardant costumes.

Jack-o’-lanterns Without the Burn

Making your jack-o’-lantern is also a fun-filled Halloween tradition, but the carving should be left to the adults. Still, there’s plenty of ways to include your child.

  • Let your child be the “artist” and sketch the design on your pumpkin.
  • Make a “carve-less pumpkin” with safe, non-toxic paint that doesn’t involve any cutting at all.
  • When lighting your jack-o’-lantern, use glow sticks, flashlights or battery-powered candles instead of a traditional candle to avoid fires and burns. 

Strategies for Sweets

And who can forget about the treats? Make sure your child has a good meal before heading out for the evening to discourage them from filling up on candies and sweets. You may even want to consider purchasing non-food treats for the trick-or-treaters that visit your home — creative crafts, coloring books, pens or small toys can be a fun alternative.

Your child should refrain from eating any of their treats until they are home and you have had an opportunity to sort and check their Halloween haul. If you find any open, unwrapped or suspicious-looking treats, make sure to discard them immediately. Finally, consider rationing your child’s treats so they’re spread out over the days following Halloween. (And don’t forget to brush well and floss!)

Have your own Halloween safety tips to pass along? Comment below!