The Essential Halloween Safety Checklist

Don't take your kids trick-or-treating without checking this indispensable guide to a safe Halloween.

Halloween is a time for fun and treats, but it can also be dangerous if you’re not careful. Falls are a leading cause of injuries among children. Because so many of them are out walking, about four times as many children ages 5 to 14 are killed in motor-vehicle-related accidents on Halloween night compared with other nights of the year. But many Halloween-related injuries can be prevented if parents and children follow these tips from the National Safety Council, American Academy of Pediatrics, and the Centers for Disease Control:

Parents designing costumes should:

  • Buy costumes or wigs that are labeled flame retardant or flame resistant.
  • Put reflective tape on the fronts and backs of kids’ costumes.
  • Make sure children’s costumes fit loosely enough to allow for freedom of movement.
  • Be sure that the hemline doesn’t fall below the ankle (to prevent tripping).
  • Use knives that are made of cardboard or flexible material. Do not allow children to carry sharp objects.
  • Avoid using masks, if possible, because they obstruct a child’s vision. Use face paint instead. Or, if a child really wants to wear a mask, make sure it has nose and mouth openings and large eye holes.

Children trick-or-treating should:

  • Travel only in familiar areas and along an established route.
  • Walk, not run, from house to house.
  • Use flashlights, stay on sidewalks and avoid crossing yards.
  • Go only to well-lit houses and remain on porches rather than entering houses.
  • Travel in small groups and be accompanied by an adult if they’re under age 12.
  • Know their phone number and carry coins for emergency telephone calls. (Or carry a cell phone, if possible
  • Bring candy home before eating it so parents can inspect it.
  • Avoid wearing hats that will slide over their eyes.
  • Cross streets at the corner and use crosswalks. They shouldn’t cross between parked cars.
  • Stop at all corners and stay together in a group while waiting to cross.
  • Be reminded to look left, right and left again before crossing the street.

Parents and adults at home should:

  • Give kids a big meal before heading out to trick-or-treat so they’re not tempted to eat candy before they get home.
  • Establish a return time for older children.
  • Prepare homes for trick-or-treaters by clearing porches, lawns and sidewalks and by placing jack-o’-lanterns away from doorways and landings.
  • Avoid doling out choking hazards such as gum, peanuts, hard candies or small toys as treats to young children.
  • Inspect all candy for safety before children eat it. Watch for signs of tampering, such as small pinholes in wrappers and torn or loose packages.
  • Motorists should:

  • Drive slowly.
  • Watch for children in the street and on medians.
  • Enter and exit driveways and alleyways carefully.
  • Look for children in dark clothing once the sun goes down.

Sources: National Safety Council, American Academy of Pediatrics, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.