Updated: October 1, 2023
Originally written for 2020, we’ve updated this post to be about general Halloween safety.
Kids are so excited to get out trick-or-treating! With excitement comes a lot less impulse control, which means parents need to be aware of what’s going on. We try to have conversations ahead of the big day, but also have a reminder chat as we eat dinner before heading out trick-or-treating. Here are some of the things we do each year.
1. Choose Safe Costumes
There are lots of great costumes you can buy or make. A few things you can do to make them even safer include:
- Purchase flame-resistant costumes. While most folks use fake candles in their pumpkins some still use a real candle and flame. You don’t want an accident while walking to someone’s door!
- Ensure costumes fit to prevent tripping.
- Use makeup or face paint instead of masks, which can obstruct vision. This helps with all the stairs kids will be going up and down!
2. Visibility is Key
Make sure everyone can be seen! So many costumes are darkly coloured, making it hard for someone driving to see you when it’s time to cross the street.
- Add reflective tape or stickers to costumes and bags to make children more visible in the dark.
- Carry a flashlight or glow sticks for extra visibility.
- Adults: wear bright colours. If you aren’t dressing up, wear something bright so you stand out against the dark, even if the kids’ costumes don’t.
3. Plan a Safe Route
A little bit of prep helps the night go smoothly! If you know the neighbourhood already, you may know which houses have the best candy and want to include those, or where the scariest houses are and want to visit (or avoid!) them. Take a few minutes before heading out to create a plan, and be sure to remember:
- Trick-or-treat in familiar neighborhoods and well-lit areas.
- Use sidewalks and crosswalks. Avoid walking on the road whenever possible.
4. Discuss Stranger Danger
While you plan to be with your kids (you do, right?), remind children not to approach or get into vehicles with strangers. They also shouldn’t enter a stranger’s house.
This is even more important for older kids who are going out with friends. Set the rule that unless it has already been planned, don’t get in the vehicle! And always make sure there are enough seat belts.
5. Emergency Contact Information
Just like when you visit an amusement park or other crowded event, make sure children have identification with emergency contact information, just in case.
- Write your contact info or safety pin a piece of paper into their treat bag.
- Program your phone with emergency numbers and carry a fully charged mobile phone.
- Send a phone with older kids that are going out without an adult.
6. Supervise Children
Once you head out Trick-or-Treating, make sure that children always have an adult with them. A responsible adult (or teen) should be making sure:
- Children are calling “trick-or-treat” and saying “thank you”.
- Everyone stays on sidewalks and paths – no cutting across lawns!
- Help cross roads safely (no criss-crossing in the middle of the street – cross at corners and crosswalks only).
7. Show Respect
You’d think this goes without saying, but it’s always worth a reminder (and usually several while we’re out).
- Only visit houses with lights on (Halloween decorations help, but not everyone decorates)
- Respect the decorations (Halloween and otherwise) and other property of people giving out treats and those who aren’t. Avoid pranks or vandalism, which can lead to trouble.
- Say “Trick or Treat!” and “Thank you!”
8. Stay in Groups
Travelling in groups can be safer than going out alone, especially for older kids. I find 2-4 kids is best. Once you get more things start getting crowded at doorways.
9. Only Take One Candy
Since 2020 it’s become more popular to just leave a bowl of candy on the front steps instead of giving them out at the door. When you come across this:
- Only take one piece of candy (unless a note says otherwise)
- Flip over empty bowls to save other trick-or-treaters making the walk to the door.
10. Inspect Treats
My least favourite part of Halloween – the rush to check over treats before the kids dig in. They really want to sort and count (and really need to get to bed!), but know an adult has to go through it first.
- Check all candy and treats for tampering or choking hazards.
- Discard homemade or unwrapped items if you’re unsure of their source.
Tip: Let the kids weigh their collection instead of sorting it before bed. If you start this tradition young enough they’ll look forward to it every year and you can remove some of the pressure on yourself to sort.
11. Be Cautious with Decorations
Decorating for Halloween is a lot of fun! Make sure you’re creating a safe path for the kids visiting your house, though.
- Keep walkways and stairs clear of Halloween decorations to prevent trips and falls.
- Use battery-operated candles in jack-o’-lanterns instead of real candles to reduce the risk of fire.
12. Pet Safety
Halloween can be a stressful night for pets. Some things to consider:
- Keep pets indoors or in a separate room to prevent them from getting frightened or agitated by trick-or-treaters.
- Turn off you doorbell. If you’ll be staying near the door or have a smart doorbell that will “ring” on your phone, turning off the doorbell may save you from some barking.
- Have a gate/closed door between your pet and the front door to prevent escape attempts.
- Keep the dog out of the chocolate!
13. Drive Safely
As hard as parents try to keep kids safe, if you’re going to be behind the wheel at all on October 31st make sure you are extra aware of pedestrians. Watch for children crossing streets, obey traffic rules, and maybe drive a bit under the speed limit in residential areas.
14. Food Allergies
If your child has food allergies, be vigilant about checking ingredient labels and consider having safe treats (store bought or homemade) on hand. Watch for Teal Pumpkins where homes have non-candy options available.
15. Halloween Alternatives
Consider attending organized Halloween events at local community centers or malls for a controlled environment. Remember that there is more than one way to celebrate Halloween!
Remember that Halloween is meant to be enjoyable, and these safety tips can help ensure that it remains a fun and memorable holiday for all.
Looking for More?
Need more Halloween ideas? Check out these posts:
Be sure to check out all our Halloween posts!
Can you make this article better?
We’re always looking to improve! Have you noticed a spelling or information error, know of something we left out, or would like to share anything else, reach out to us!