Spooky season is here! As a time filled with frightful haunts, creative costumes and sweet treats, Halloween is the perfect time to have fun and celebrate with family and friends. However, trick-or-treating and Halloween events can be a big change from your family’s average routine and can unfortunately increase the risk of getting hurt.
Makenzie Ferguson, injury prevention educator at CHOC, says that the biggest safety risk for kids on Halloween is getting struck by a car while trick or treating. Here, Makenzie and CHOC’s community education team offer tips to help your kids avoid Halloween-related injuries this season.
Costume safety for kids and teens
Making sure your child feels safe and comfortable in their Halloween costume is important. Have a costume dress rehearsal before the big day so you can make any adjustments as needed. In addition, consider the following costume safety tips:
- Plan costumes that are bright and reflective or add reflective material to costumes and trick-or-treat bags for extra visibility.
- Make sure that your child’s shoes fit well and that costumes are the appropriate length to prevent tripping, getting tangled or coming in contact with flames (like from inside carved pumpkins).
- Because masks can limit or block eyesight, consider non-toxic makeup and decorative hats as safer alternatives. Hats should fit properly to prevent them from sliding over your child’s eyes.
- When shopping for costumes, wigs and accessories, look for and purchase those with a label clearly indicating they are flame resistant.
- Avoid decorative contact lenses without an eye examination and prescription from an eye care professional. Some contact lens packaging may claim this is unnecessary and that they are a “one size fits all” product, these products can cause pain, inflammation and other serious eye disorders.
Trick-or-treating safety tips for kids and teens
Many kids and teens look forward to trick-or-treating every year, but it may be the most common time for injuries to occur. To make sure your family has a safe trick-or-treating game plan in mind before heading out the door, consider the following tips:
- Join kids under age 12 for trick-or-treating. Make sure there are enough adults in your group to keep an eye on the kids. For older kids and teens who may be trick-or-treating alone, make sure you have a way to stay in contact with them if an emergency were to occur.
- Make sure your trick-or-treating group is walking on the sidewalk. If no sidewalk is available, walk facing traffic as far to the left as possible.
- Remind kids to cross the street at corners or crosswalks and look left, right, and left again before crossing.
- Put the phones down and keep your heads up before crossing the street. Walk, don’t run, and make sure you make eye contact with the driver before you cross.
- Teach kids how to call 9-1-1 in the event of an emergency or if they become lost.
- Children and guardians should both carry flashlights and/or glow sticks to increase visibility.
- Double-check the candy your child receives before they sample any treats. Ensure the items are properly sealed and there are no holes in the packaging.
Halloween driving safety for teens, parents and caregivers
If you are out driving to a trick-or-treating neighborhood or Halloween event, be cautious. Use the following advice to drive safely:
- The most popular trick-or-treating hours are from 5:30 to 9:30 p.m. on Halloween. Be extra careful and watch out for kids when driving between those hours.
- Slow down and be alert! Kids are excited on Halloween and may dart into the street. Turn on headlights early in the day to spot kids from further away.
- Spend an extra moment at intersections to scan for kids who could be in medians or stepping off curbs. Use extra caution and drive slowly when entering or exiting driveways and alleyways.
- Although you may see the children, keep in mind their costumes may unfortunately limit their visibility and they may not see you as well as you see them, or at all.
- Never text or use your phone while driving.
Pumpkin carving safety tips for kids and teens
Painting or decorating pumpkins can be a great option for families, but if you choose to carve pumpkins, use the following pumpkin carving safety tips:
- When choosing a pumpkin, try to find one with a smooth, thin shell that is easy to carve – these pumpkins will feel lighter than the others.
- When carving with young kids, adults should handle the tools. Let your kids be involved with the templates or drawing on the pumpkin.
- Carefully carve on a flat, sturdy surface in a well-lit area with adult supervision.
- Keep your hands and tools dry.
- Use pumpkin carving kits for tools rather than kitchen knives. Sharper is not better when carving pumpkins.
- Don’t rush! Use slow, controlled movements away from the body. Avoid carving while your hands are inside the pumpkin.
- When it’s time to light up your carved pumpkin, opt for a battery-operated tea light rather than a candle to avoid burn injuries.
Watch Karla, child life specialist at CHOC, and patient Alex safely carve a pumpkin using the Choco template below!
More Halloween resources from CHOC
The CHOC team wishes your family a fun and safe Halloween! Get these other resources from our experts:
- If your kids have autism spectrum disorder (ASD) or other sensory challenges, get specialized advice and safety tips from CHOC.
- Learn how to safely celebrate Halloween while trying to decrease the risk of contracting COVID-19, or general colds and cases of flu. Get tips from CHOC experts.
- Make sure your child knows that medicine is not candy. Get advice from CHOC’s pharmacy team.
- Is your child very afraid of Halloween? Get resources to help from a CHOC psychologist.
- Get more Halloween safety tips from CHOC’s partner, Safe Kids Worldwide.
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For more important tips to prevent injuries in children and teens, visit choc.org/safety.