Nearly 4,000 Halloween-related injuries occur every year in the United States. The most common Halloween mishaps are slips, trips, and falls; lacerations, burns, and eye injuries; food poisoning; costume related injuries; inadequate security; and pedestrian accidents.
Jason Brick, founder of Safest Family on the Block, provides the following tips to help parents be ready for the big night.
- Avoid open flames, even though candles are considered part of the gig. Those artificial LED candles are great, and a glowstick in a jack-o’-lantern works pretty well, too.
- Get those glowsticks on a lanyard and put one on each kid in your trick-or-treating group.
- Follow all the normal traffic safety rules, like crossing at corners and in crosswalks, even though it’s exciting and it’s a holiday.
- Use a tracking app and a phone to watch from afar for tweens and teens going off without you.
- Keep an eye out for signs of hypothermia and frostbite as the weather turns. They’re bigger dangers that don’t get much attention, especially for people in skimpy costumes.
- Set specific “phone breaks” through the night, and keep phones put away other times, so everybody is as alert as possible.
- Agree on a check-in time with teens out for the night. This can just be on the phone, but ask for it to be FaceTime or other video options so you can scope things out.
- Be aware masks cut peripheral vision down substantially. Cut to widen eye holes. Whenever possible, opt for face paint instead.
- Have kids going out alone travel in groups, and be sure they stick together at all times.
- Plan your trick-or-treating locations for well-lit neighborhoods with sidewalks.
- Check treat bags for choking hazards.
- Give each child a contact information card they can use to help an adult find you if they get separated.
- Have a face-painting session before going out. It’s fun, and replaces masks – which are more dangerous because they restrict vision.
- Keep a coat and hat handy to put on as the night gets colder.
- Remind your kids not to share candy with friends who have food allergies, or who they don’t know well enough to be sure they don’t have food allergies.
- Use a brightly colored, reflective, or even glowing treat bag to maximize visibility.
- Put Christmas lights up on your front porch to keep the path lit but maintain a spooky vibe.
- Keep pets inside so the roaming crowds don’t traumatize the poor furry friends.
- Remind your kids, if they get lost or separated, to find another adult trick-or-treating with children. That will be a parent or older sibling, who will be safe to approach and happy to help reunite you.
- Begin the night with a plan that balances safety and fun, and stick to the plan all night long. If a kid wants to change the plan, the answer is no...but you can discuss a new plan for next year.
For more information on Halloween safety, see the other articles in this series: “Halloween Safety Part 1: Halloween Myths and What You Should Worry About Instead” and “Halloween Safety Part 2: Halloween Costume Safety.”