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How to Keep Your Kids Safe This Halloween

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Before you join your ghosts and goblins for a night of trick-or-treating, read these tips to keep them safe in their costumes, eating candy, or walking around the neighborhood.

We spoke with Children’s National Health System’s Education, Prevention, and Outreach Coordinator Sally Wilson, BS, RN, to find out the best safety tips for Halloween.

She said a good trick to keep kids safe is to slip a piece of paper in their treat bag that identifies the child’s name and where he or she lives, in case the child is separated from the group.

Costume Safety

“One of the basics is to make sure your child’s costume isn’t too long, so he or she doesn’t trip and fall,” Wilson said.

Here’s a checklist of costume safety from Safe Kids Worldwide:
  • Avoid masks or head gear that blocks vision, long costumes or awkward shoes that could cause a fall, and loose or non-fire-resistant material that could ignite near a candle.
  • Use hypoallergenic makeup for face painting instead of masks that could block vision. Don't apply makeup too close to the eyes. 
  • Make sure swords and other accessories are made of cardboard or other flexible materials. 
  • Mark costumes and accessories with reflective tape and provide flashlights.

Candy Safety

Wilson says that parents should not let children eat candy while trick-or-treating, until you have time to check it.

 “Make sure your child eats dinner before they go,” she said. “And only eat commercially approved treats, unless you know the neighbor personally.”

Here are some other candy safety tips from Safe Kids:
  • An adult should check sweets for signs of tampering before children are allowed to eat them.
  • Remind children to only eat treats in original and unopened wrappers.
  • Throw away candies if wrappers are faded, have holes or tears, or signs of re-wrapping. When in doubt, throw it out!

Pedestrian Safety

Wilson is passionate about promoting pedestrian safety and since Halloween encourages walking from house to house, she has many tips on this subject.

She stressed that children younger than 12 years old should always be accompanied by an adult. Children should also be careful when crossing the street, and only cross at corners.

“When I had done some research on this, one of the significant issues is that adults drink and drive and that’s an issue for children,” she said. “Because kids get excited, dart around, and get hit. We need to encourage children to use their safety rules.”

According to Safe Kids, children are more than twice as likely to be hit by a car and killed on Halloween than on any other day of the year.

Kids should also be mindful of cars in driveways. It becomes darker earlier in the fall and kids can be more difficult to see when a car is backing out of a driveway.

“Most people don’t do this, but parents need to discuss the route of trick-or-treaters, know who they’re going with, and only travel in familiar areas,” she added. “And don’t go into a stranger’s home, particularly ones that are not well lit. Establish the route and a return time.”

Below are more tips from Safe Kids on walking safety.
  • Cross the street at corners using crosswalks and traffic signals.
  • Children younger than age 12 should cross streets at night with an adult.
  • Walk on sidewalks or paths. If there are no sidewalks, walk facing traffic as far to the left as possible.
  • Have kids carry glow sticks or flashlights for added visibility to drivers.
  • If older kids are trick-or-treating without adult supervision, parents should make sure they go in a group and stick to a predetermined route with good lighting.
Have a safe and fun Halloween!


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