In my last article, Jason Brick, founder of Safest Family on the Block, discussed how two things parents worry about most on Halloween – candy tampering and stranger danger – aren't things that really happen on that night.
In this article, Brick covers one of the most common dangers to kids on Halloween night: costumes.
Costumes represent a surprising number of visible, invisible, and even counterintuitive risks to our kids, so I gathered the most important tips about them so you can keep your kids’ digs as safe as possible.
15 costume safety tips from experts
- Shoes should be comfortable and securely tied, even if they don’t match the costume.
- Shoes should also be close-toed and worn with good socks to avoid frostbite in most climates.
- Confirm your costume, or its constituent parts if handmade, are made out of flame-retardant/fire-resistant materials.
- Avoid costumes and props with sharp edges. For example, favor soft foam swords over wooden or metal replicas.
- Pick a unique costume, not the year’s popular superhero, so your child is easy to pick out of a crowd.
- Never use decorative contact lenses. They’re not optometrist certified, and can cause severe eye damage.
- Avoid baggy outfits, flowing capes or cloaks, or other things that can catch on a doorknob, get stepped on, or drift unnoticed over a candle.
- Masks cut peripheral vision down substantially. Cut to widen eye holes. Whenever possible, opt for face paint instead.
- Incorporate reflective tape into costumes to make them easily visible at night.
- Bring a coat for when the night starts getting colder if a costume shows a lot of skin, or is made of thin material.
- Leave props in the car during trick-or-treating so kids have both hands free or one hand free once they grab their treat bag.
- Put regular clothes on under the costume. They’re more fire-resistant and add warmth. Make them pajamas for easier transition to bed after trick-or-treating.
- Size costumes appropriately. Loose costumes are a tripping hazard, and tight ones can cut off circulation.
- Avoid props or costumes that tie something around a child’s neck. If you must have a cape, fasten it loosely at the shoulders in a way that pulls off easily such as with Velcro.
- Incorporate a lanyard glowstick at the beginning of the night to make your child much more visible to traffic.
An additional note on CDC mask recommendations: Kids should wear well-fitting masks over their nose and mouth if they’re indoors for Halloween activities and aren’t fully vaccinated, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advises. Even those who are fully vaccinated should wear a mask in public indoor settings in communities with substantial to high transmission. Outdoors is safer than indoors.
A costume mask shouldn’t be considered a substitute for a cloth mask. A costume mask shouldn’t be used as personal protective equipment unless it’s made of two or more layers of breathable fabric that covers the mouth and nose and doesn’t leave gaps around the face.
The last article in this three-part series is “Halloween Safety Part 3: How to Be Ready for the Big Night.”