20 Little Ways to Ensure a Safe and Happy Halloween

Follow these safety tips to ensure the creepy costumes are the only scare you get this year.

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Each year, more than 41 million trick-or-treaters, ages 5 to 14, dress up in disguise and travel door-to-door in hopes of collecting treats. Whether you’re chaperoning, handing out candy, or simply driving through town, follow these tips to ensure everyone stays safe on Halloween.

For Kids:

1. When decorating pumpkins, The Nemours Foundation, a large nonprofit dedicated to children's health, cautions against letting small children use carving knives. Instead, consider decorating the gourds with glitter glue, paint, or markers.

2. When selecting a costume, always make sure the fabric is flame-retardant, cautions the National Fire Protection Association. When possible, choose disguises without billowing or long trailing fabric, which are more likely to brush against candles or lanterns and catch fire.

3. If your child’s costume includes a hat or a mask, avoid falls by ensuring it fits well and that the eye holes are large enough to properly see out of, advises the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.  

4. Swords, knives, and other accessories should be short, soft, and flexible to avoid injury.

5. Light colored costumes make it easier for drivers to see kids at night. The Nemours Foundation advises that parents add reflective or glow-in-the-dark tape to costumes and trick-or-treat bags, so children are easy to see.

6. In case your child gets lost, consider attaching a nametag with your contact information onto costumes.

7. Only buy nontoxic makeup and always test it in a small area first, suggests the National Safety Council. Removing any makeup before bed can also help prevent skin or eye irritation.

8. A parent should always accompany young trick-or-treaters. If older children want to go alone, the American Academy of Pediatrics suggests mapping out a familiar route and agreeing on a strict curfew.

9. The National Safety Council reminds parents to teach kids not to approach dark homes and never to enter a stranger’s house.

10. Always walk on sidewalks and use caution when crossing the street. Use cross walks and avoid crossing between parked cars or in front of driveways.

11. Never eat candy while out and about. Wait until the festivities have come to an end, so that a parent can inspect treats and throw away any unwrapped or suspicious treats.

For motorists:

1. Drive slowly and be especially alert in residential areas, particularly during the hours of 5:30 pm to 9:30 pm (the most popular trick-or-treating hours) on Halloween night, suggests Safe Kids Worldwide, a global organization dedicated to preventing injuries in children.

2. Due to increased activity and road hazards, The National Safety Council warns parents to discourage young, inexperienced drivers from taking the wheel on Halloween.

For homeowners:

1. Festive decorations, like dried flowers, cornstalks, and crepe paper, are highly flammable. The National Fire Protection Association recommends keeping these items far from open flames and heat sources.

2. It’s important to keep pathways and stairs well illuminated, but consider trading candles and torches for flashlights or battery-operated lanterns to ensure costumes don’t catch fire. 

3. Remove garden hoses, toys, lawn decorations, and other obstacles from pathways and yards to avoid trips, warns the Mayo Clinic.

4. To limit sugar intake, consider handing out stickers, pencils, small toys, or other inedible items.

For pets:

1. Don’t let your pet find his or her way into the candy stash. According to the ASPCA, both chocolate and candies that contain xylitol can be dangerous (and potentially lethal) to dogs and cats.

2. If your Jack-o-lantern is illuminated with a candle, take care to place them out of your pet’s reach. Cats and dogs can easily knock these decorations over, which could cause a fire, says the ASPCA.

3. Your furry friends may look extra cute in their costumes, but be sure they’re comfortable. If your pet seems distressed, it may be a sign that the disguise is restricting movement or sight.

4. Ensure the comfort of both your pet and the revolving door of trick-or-treaters by keeping animals away from chaos, warns the ASPCA. You wouldn’t want your dog or cat to escape or scare any small kids.