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Halloween is one of my favorite holidays. My kids love it, too, and my daughter even claims its “her” holiday. It’s also her birthday, so I guess she has a point.
Halloween is even more exciting when you’re a kid. You get to become something completely different. You can show off the awesome costume you’ve waited forever to wear. And you get candy. I mean, what could be better?
But Halloween is also filled with spooky stuff and a lot of excitement. Put those two things together and a lot can go wrong if you’re not careful. According to Protect America, the 41 million kids that trick-or-treat are twice as likely to be killed in traffic accidents on Halloween. And about 70% of parents don’t go trick-or-treating with their kids, which means no adult supervision.
Halloween Safety Tips for Kids and Parents
Here are some invaluable Halloween safety tips to keep your kiddos safe. After all, the only thing they should worry about on Halloween is how much candy they’ll get!
1. Get a wagon for the really little ones.
Most toddlers are notorious for wandering. Give them an inch, they’ll take a mile.
Not only will it save your sanity to have a wagon available when your little one inevitably starts complaining that she doesn’t want to walk anymore while trick-or-treating, but it can also keep little wanderers close by. One less little person to keep an eye on keeps everyone in your group safer. Plus, she can still always hop out when it’s time to trick-or-treat at a new house.
When my son was a toddler, I used this wagon. Freaking lifesaver. It’s actually a garden utility cart, but since it holds up to 150 pounds, it was definitely heavy-duty enough to hold my little guy, the dog, and even his big sister when she wanted a break. I can’t even tell you how many parents asked where I got it because they desperately needed it for their wanderers, too! It’s been on countless trick-or-treats and other trips with us.
2. Use flashlights, reflectors, or stick-on lights.
I remember being a kid and my mom sticking lights to my Halloween costume every year. I thought she was crazy. They were round and looked like the colors of glow sticks and had adhesive to stick right to my costume. She’d put one on the front of me and one on the back.
I can’t find those exact lights anymore for my kids, but I wish I could. Now that I’m a parent, I know why it’s so important for kids to be easily seen while trick-or-treating. In my neighborhood, especially, there are crowds of families trick-or-treating, not great street lighting, and lots of car traffic.
It’s one of the most well-known Halloween safety tips to keep you and your kids visible when trick-or-treating, yet I still see so many skipping it. Give your kids a flashlight. Put reflective strips on their costumes. You can even stick some adhesive LED lights to them. Whatever works.
3. Trick-or-treat with friends or family.
More adults in your group means more eyes on your kids. Invite grandparents, aunts and uncles, cousins, and friends with kids to join you for trick-or-treating. There is definitely safety in numbers, especially when you have a bunch of people who are all there for the same purpose: Making sure the kids have fun and stay safe.
4. Make sure the kids have costumes that fit well.
Costuming is tough for kids because there aren’t as many sizes for Halloween costumes as there are for regular clothing. Some costumes even use a one-size-fits-most approach, which we all know is never true. The problem with ill-fitting costumes is that they can be too loose, which can cause trips and falls – and could even be a fire hazard if your little one walks by carved pumpkins with real candles inside.
My advice? Shop in-store for a costume instead of shopping online. I hate saying that because I’m such a fan of online shopping. But in this case, it’s the best way to check the packaging to find a size chart or hold up full-length costumes to see what fits. You can also read the packaging to see if a costume’s material is non-flammable.
Masks can be another issue. Many of them only have small eye and mouth holes which can obstruct vision and breathing. If possible, avoid masks altogether. But if your kid is dead-set on having a mask, you might want to consider cutting the eye and mouth holes larger.
5. Stick to well-lit areas.
There are so many dark roads and alleys where I live, and I won’t step foot in them with my kids, no matter how many houses are handing out candy. We go only on the roads with plenty of street lights and porch lights on. I also try to stick with the other crowds, even though it’s not as convenient for walking. But, again, the safety in numbers thing.
It’s also a good idea to start trick-or-treating as early as possible to avoid sunset. Most neighborhoods have set times. We always head out right when our time starts – usually 5 or 5:30. My son’s usually about done after an hour or so anyway, so we can get back well before it gets dark out.
6. Be very hands-on with pumpkin carving.
Even if you use those plastic toolsets to carve pumpkins with your kids, they’re not free from safety hazards. Those little plastic cutters are still sharp enough to slice through pumpkins, which means they’re sharp enough to gash a finger.
For toddlers and young kids, you might want to stick to painting pumpkins. Or, have them clean out all the insides (it’s an awesome sensory activity!) and you can do the cutting. Older kids can probably help with carving but stay observant. Lend a helping hand or have them hold the tool with you as you carve.
And, keep kids away from open flames if you choose to use candles. Alternatively, you can opt for realistic Halloween pumpkin lights that flicker just like real flames.
Those are my Halloween safety tips to give you and your little ones a fun and safe holiday. What would you add to the list? Give your best tips down below in the comments!
Amy is a mom of two, freelance writer, and blog manager who works with family-focused businesses to improve their content strategies. You can find her published work on Reader’s Digest Online, MSN, Niche, Frugal For Less, and other lifestyle publications.