Halloween is an exciting time for children. The prospect of dressing up in fun costumes and going trick-or-treating with friends for free candy can be a highlight of autumn. As fun as it is for children, however, it’s equally worrying for parents. Safety risks abound, from falling in the dark to unsafe candy. Below are some Halloween safety tips from Children’s safety expert Sally Wilson.

Costume safety

  • Avoid masks or head gear that blocks vision, long costumes or awkward shoes that could cause a fall, and loose or non-fire-resistant material that could ignite near a candle.
  • Use hypoallergenic makeup for face painting instead of masks that could block vision. Don’t apply makeup too close to the eyes.
  • Make sure swords and other accessories are made of cardboard or other flexible materials.
  • Mark costumes and accessories with reflective tape and provide flashlights.

Candy safety

  • An adult should check sweets for signs of tampering before children are allowed to eat them.
  • Remind children to only eat treats in original and unopened wrappers.
  • Throw away candies if wrappers are faded, have holes or tears, or signs of re-wrapping. When in doubt, throw it out!

Pedestrian safety

According to Safe Kids Worldwide, children are more than twice as likely to be hit by a car and killed on Halloween than on any other day of the year. Children younger than 12 years old should always be accompanied by an adult. Children should also be careful when crossing the street, and only cross at corners.

Kids should also be mindful of cars in driveways. It becomes darker earlier at night in the fall and kids can be more difficult to see when a car is backing out of a driveway.

Some more safety tips for walking include:

  • Cross the street at corners using crosswalks and traffic signals.
  • Children younger than age 12 should cross streets at night with an adult.
  • Walk on sidewalks or paths. If there are no sidewalks, walk facing traffic as far to the left as possible.
  • Have kids carry glow sticks or flashlights for added visibility to drivers.
  • If older kids are trick-or-treating without adult supervision, parents should make sure they go in a group and stick to a predetermined route with good lighting.

You can also keep kids safe by slipping a piece of paper in their treat bag that has their name and address, in case the child is separated from the group.

Have a safe and fun Halloween!


Sally Wilson, RN, BSN, was the Education, Prevention, and Outreach Coordinator for the Division of Trauma and Burns at Children’s National.

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