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Published on October 25, 2022

house decorated for halloween

How to Have a Safe and Happy Halloween

My family loves to decorate and carve pumpkins for Halloween, which is fast approaching.

Whether your kids are looking forward to a pumpkin patch visit or excited to pick out spooky costumes, we all want to have a fun and SAFE holiday. Here are some tips to do just that.

Finding the Right Costumes

Be sure all fabrics, materials and wigs are flame retardant. Masks should have both eye and breathing holes, and make sure those for the eyes are large enough for good peripheral vision. It might be a good idea to instruct your child to lift their mask while walking. Non-toxic face paint can be a good alternative, too.

Long, flowing costumes require extra caution near lighted Jack-o-Lanterns or firepits. Choose well-fitting shoes to avoid tripping. Costumes should have reflective tape for visibility, and trick-or-treaters should carry flashlights or glow sticks. A large, deep trick-or-treat bag will help prevent candy spills on streets and driveways.

Be sure props like swords, brooms or magic wands are made of flexible material. Law enforcement discourages the use of realistic looking toy guns.

Balancing the Candy Question

Be sure kids eat dinner before heading out into the spooky night — it may help them resist the temptation to eat candy before you have checked it.

Check all goodies when your child returns; discard anything that is not individually wrapped, has broken or torn wrappers or any unsealed beverages. When in doubt, throw it out.

When you hand out candy, avoid giving hard candy to toddlers and young preschoolers; it can be a choking hazard.

Maintaining Your Supervision without Interrupting Fun

The age for trick-or-treating without an adult varies. The National Safety Council recommends that children younger than age 12 be supervised. When your child is ready to venture without you, it is best for kids to go in groups. Send along a cell phone and instruct them to stick together for the entire evening. Agree on a time to be home. You can map a route and be clear about off-limit areas like alleys and open fields.

Children should only go to homes of people they know, and of course avoid houses with no illuminated lights. Talk about basic safety rules, such as:

  • Walking on sidewalks and not running
  • Safely crossing the street
  • Dealing with strangers
  • Not using bikes, skateboards or scooters while trick-or-treating

Supervision is important for carving pumpkin as well. Use the right tools for this activity and make sure you help when kids use any sharp carving tools. One option for younger children is painting or decorating a pumpkin that’s not carved.

Review the Basics of Road and Vehicle Safety

Walk with your kids when they cross the road and make sure to not let them dart across the street without an adult. Having a bright costume or glow sticks can help children be more easily spotted in the road as well.

Make sure kids walk instead of running and never cross a road between parked cars. If there are no sidewalks, have kids walk on the edge of the road facing traffic. Consider backing your cars into the garage for the evening so you’ll have a better view of children on the sidewalk.

Homeowners Can Prepare Property to Help with Safety

If you will be welcoming little Halloween revelers, turn on porch and other outside lights. Clear your yard of tripping hazards like tools, potted plants and toys. Keep garage doors closed.

Children don’t always stay on the sidewalks, so consider using battery powered lights or chemical glow sticks in your Jack-o-Lanterns. If you do use candles, place them well away from areas where children might walk.

You might isolate your pets for the evening since strange sights and sounds can be upsetting. Be sure pets are wearing collars and tags just in case they escape through a frequently opened door. Young kids sometimes get scared during the holiday, too. And remember: some kinds of candy can be hazardous to pets, so keep candy up and out of reach.

Have a safe, healthy and happy Halloween!

Find more tips from the Family Life Educator team.

By Patricia Bates, Family Life Educator, Women’s and Children’s Community Outreach Education, Avera McKennan Hospital & University Health Center

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