From the candy to the costumes, Halloween is a fun-filled time for kids and parents alike. But it can pose dangers to young revelers.
To help make this year's festivity a trick-free treat, follow these simple safety tips:
Adorning Your Little Ghouls
Choose a light-colored costume or add glow-in-the-dark tape to the front and back of the costume so your kids can be easily seen.
Don't buy a costume unless it's labeled "flame-retardant." This means the material won't burn.
Make sure wigs and beards don't cover your kids' eyes, noses, or mouths.
Don't let your children wear masks — they can make it difficult for kids to see and breathe. Instead, use nontoxic face paint or makeup. Have younger children draw pictures of what they want to look like. Older kids will have fun putting the makeup on themselves.
Put a name tag — with your phone number — on your children's costumes.
Avoid oversized and high-heeled shoes that could cause kids to trip.
Avoid long or baggy skirts, pants, or shirtsleeves that could catch on something and cause falls.
Make sure that any props your kids carry, such as wands or swords, are flexible.
Don't let kids handle knives. Have them draw their designs on the face of the pumpkin with a black marker — then you do the carving. And make sure you're using a sharp knife or a mini-saw that's pointed away from your body.
Keep kids at a safe distance while you're carving the pumpkin so that they don't distract you or get in the way of sharp objects.
Remove pumpkin guts safely. If your children beg to remove the guts of the pumpkin — as many kids do — don't hand over a knife to do it. Instead, let your little ones get messy by scooping out pumpkin flesh with their hands or an ice cream scoop.
Clean up your mess. Pumpkin flesh is slippery and can cause falls and injuries when dropped on the floor. Layer newspaper or old cloths under your carving workspace and clean up spills right away so no one slips or trips.
Skip the candles. A burning candle in a pumpkin may become a blazing fire if left unattended. Instead, use a glow stick (available in many colors) or flameless candle to safely illuminate your jack-o'-lantern.
Accompany young children (under age 10) on their rounds. But make sure they know their home phone number, the cell phone numbers of parents and any other trusted adult who's supervising, and how to call 911 in case they get lost.
For older kids who are trick-or-treating on their own, make sure you approve of the route they'll be taking and know when they'll be coming home. Also be sure that they:
carry a cell phone, if possible
go in a group and stay together
only go to houses with porch lights on and walk on sidewalks on lit streets (never walk through alleys or across lawns)
know to never go into strangers' homes or cars
cross the street at crosswalks and never assume that vehicles will stop
Give kids flashlights with new batteries.
Limit trick-or-treating to your neighborhood and the homes of people you and your children know.
When your kids get home, check all treats to make sure they're safely sealed and there are no signs of tampering, such as small pinholes, loose or torn packages, and packages that appear to have been taped or glued back together. Throw out loose candy, spoiled items, and any homemade treats that haven't been made by someone you know.
Don't allow young children to have hard candy or gum that could cause choking.
Make sure trick-or-treaters will be safe when visiting your home, too. Remove lawn decorations, sprinklers, toys, bicycles, wet leaves, or anything that might obstruct your walkway. Provide a well-lit outside entrance to your home. Keep family pets away from trick-or-treaters, even if they seem harmless to you.
Offer a filling meal before your kids head out to trick-or-treat so they won't scarf down too much of their haul.
Consider purchasing Halloween treats other than candy. Stickers, erasers, crayons, pencils, coloring books, and sealed packages of raisins and dried fruits are good choices.
Know how much candy your kids have collected and store it somewhere other than their bedrooms. Having it so handy can be an irresistible temptation for many kids. Consider being somewhat lenient about candy eating on Halloween, within reason, and talk about how the rest of the candy will be handled. Kids who generally eat just a couple of pieces and save the rest might be trusted to decide how much to eat. But if your child tends to overdo it, consider setting limits.
Once your trick-or-treaters have returned with their Halloween goodies, extend their bounty by letting them have a treat or two a day instead of leaving candy out in big bags or bowls for kids to sample at will.
Take these quick and easy precautions to help your little ghosts and goblins have a hauntingly happy and safe Halloween.