Safe Trick or Treating

Scary fun won’t be ruined by being scary safe

Everyone’s favorite holiday is right around the corner. No, not Christmas. We’re talking about the favorite time of year for both kids and kids at heart who like a little thrill and chill in their celebration: Halloween.

It’s time for trick or treating, pumpkin carving, ghost busting and horror movie marathons. It’s also time to think about safety.

But how can you be safe without throwing a wet blanket on the scares?

Don’t worry. We aren’t suggesting not wearing costumes or giving out celery and dental floss instead of candy. We’re talking about basic tips to keep you and your ghouls safe this season.


When it comes to sorting candy when the trick or treaters return home, always stick with the basics of safety and common sense.

“Only eat candy that is individually wrapped,” according to Jessica James, DO, a pediatrics specialist at Adena. “Parents should sort candy and dispose of any that is unwrapped or partially wrapped. If your child has food allergies, dispose of any items that could contain potential allergens or if you are unsure of the ingredients.”


Costumes have come a long way since the days of plastic masks with small eye holes and even smaller nose holes. Kids today love to get creative with their cosplay. Here are a few things to keep in mind as your children and teens (and maybe even their parents) dream up the next great Halloween wardrobe:

  • For smaller children, consider costumes that are bright and reflective - Add reflective tape to costumes and trick-or-treat bags for greater visibility.
  • Make sure shoes fit well – Be sure costumes are also short enough to prevent tripping or tangled up.
  • Look for "flame resistant" on the costume labels - Wigs and other accessories should also clearly indicate this.
  • Non-toxic makeup and decorative hats are safer than masks – Always test makeup before the big night to make sure no one is allergic to any of the ingredients.
  • Avoid any sharp or long swords, canes or sticks as a costume accessory – It’s hard enough carrying around that giant bag of candy.
  • Do not use decorative contact lenses -  Decorative contact lenses without a prescription are dangerous (and illegal). They can cause pain, inflammation, eye disorders and infections.


Whether you’re planning a simple scary face or a hand-carved masterpiece, keep these tips in mind:

  • Never allow small children to carve pumpkins – Let little ones draw a face with markers so you can do the cutting. Also, use a small pumpkin saw (sold with other Halloween goods) instead of a large knife to carve, making small strokes while directing the blade away from yourself and others.
  • Use a flashlight or glow stick instead of a candle to light your pumpkin - If you use a candle, votive candles are the safest (and make your pumpkin look great).
  • Don’t place candlelit pumpkins in the path of people – Don’t leave them unattended, either.

At your haunted home

As you prepare for scares, a few tips can keep your crypt safe:

  • Remove tripping hazards - Keep your porch, sidewalk and front yard clear of anything a child could trip over, such as garden hoses, toys, bikes and lawn decorations.
  • Check outdoor lights - Replace any burned-out bulbs and look for dark spots around your walkways.
  • Sweep wet leaves from sidewalks and steps – You don’t want anyone to slip and fall.
  • Keep pets inside – Pets aren’t huge fans of holidays like the Fourth of July and Halloween, so keep them away from trick or treaters. 

On the treat-or-treat trail

Here are a few simple ways to keep the kids safe as they hit the road in search of candy they’ll be eating until Thanksgiving:

  • Accompany your children on their neighborhood rounds - If your older kids are going alone, plan their route and agree on a specific time when they should return home.
  • Only go to homes with a porch light on – Don’t waste valuable treat or treat time on houses that aren’t participating.
  • Never enter a home or car for a treat - Notify law enforcement immediately of any suspicious activity.
  • Review how to call 9-1-1 with your kids - If there’s an emergency or they become lost (or are prone to wander off), make sure they have a cell phone and know who to call. 
  • Remind children how to be cautious pedestrians:
    • Stay on well-lit streets and always use the sidewalk.
    • If no sidewalk is available, walk at the far edge of the roadway facing traffic.
    • Never cut across yards or use alleys.
    • Only cross the street as a group in established crosswalks and never cross between parked cars.
    • Don't assume the right of way - motorists may have trouble seeing trick-or-treaters.

Have a happy, healthy Halloween

In a perfect world, kids would enjoy one or two trick-or-treat sweets after dinner for the next 10 months. But reality is a different story. Here’s what you can do to make sure your kids don’t overload on chocolate and sugar:

  • Consider non-edible goodies to trick-or-treaters -  Halloween is tricky (no pun intended) for children with food allergies. Glow sticks, spider rings, vampire fangs, pencils, bubbles, bouncy balls, finger puppets, whistles, bookmarks, stickers and stencils can be a fun alternative.
  • Keep an eye on what’s in their bag – Make sure your kids don’t break into the treats until they get home. Though tampering is rare, it can happen. Be sure to examine all treats and throw away any spoiled, unwrapped or suspicious items.
  • Try to ration treats – Note we said ‘try.’ If you can keep expectations realistic, consistent and positive, your Halloween is less likely to end with arguing, crying or grounding your kids from candy.

“Make sure the child eats a good meal prior to trick or treating so they don’t overindulge on candy,” says Dr. James. “Have a plan set up in advance for the days and weeks after Halloween so the child knows what to expect regarding when and how much candy is allowed.”