It’s time to start putting the final touches on Halloween costumes, honing your pumpkin-carving skills, and stocking up on fun-sized candy bars, because spooky season is upon us! But while you sip on a warm mug of cider and ponder your decoration setup, you should also start thinking about your safety plan — because Halloween and mischief go hand-in-hand.
Before your kids hit the streets in search of the best candy, or you stay in to pass out sweet treats, check out these tips to help keep the whole family safe and house protected this Halloween.
Halloween Safety Tips for the Day Of
Trick-or-treating only comes once a year, so there’s no time to waste once the sun starts to set. Follow these tips ahead of time to make sure Halloween night is more safe than spooky.
Choose Your Child’s Costume Wisely
Whether your kid wants to be Elsa or Spiderman this Halloween, here are a few ideas to follow:
- Always look for a “flame-resistant” label on your child’s costume. The FDA recommends using synthetic fabrics like nylon and polyester if you plan to go the DIY route. Flame-resistant costumes help in case your little one brushes their cape or dress against a lit jack-o’-lantern, they’ll have plenty of time to stop, drop, and roll before it spreads. Be sure to practice this fire safety technique with your little ones before Halloween night, so they can respond quickly if something happens.
- Avoid costumes with masks, which can limit your child’s view as they cross the street or walk up your neighbor’s front steps.
- You can use face paint as an alternative to masks, but be sure to test any products you plan to use ahead of time. According to the FDA, you should place a small amount on your child’s arm to see if they experience any redness, swelling, irritation, or rashes. If they don’t show any signs of an allergy, you can start practicing your application skills.
- Check the size chart before you buy anything, or have your younger child test out their sibling’s hand-me-down before Halloween night. Oversized costumes can trip your little pumpkin or witch.
Prep Your House for Trick-or-Treaters
Kids on a quest for Halloween candy usually don’t slow down to check for tripping hazards. That’s why it’s important to remove any potential dangers before the first trick-or-treater arrives. Here are a few tips to follow:
- Check for hazards during the day that may not be visible at night, like cords or slippery leaves, and remove them before kids arrive.
- If your spooky skeleton or blowup bat partially blocks the path to your front door, move it to a different area.
- Replace the tea light in your jack-o’-lantern with a battery-powered candle.
- Test your outdoor lights and consider buying a few pathway lights to illuminate your walkway.
- Keep your pets in a closed room, so they don’t run up and scare little trick-or-treaters — or get too anxious about all of the commotion.
- If you plan to leave candy outside on Halloween night, make sure the bowl is well-lit too.
Trick-or-Treating Safety Tips
Whether your kids are still fun-sized or are old enough to venture out on their own, ensure that they follow these safety tips — and don’t forget to snap a few pictures before trick-or-treating time.
Make Sure Your Littlest Monsters Cross the Street Carefully
If you plan to let your little ones run ahead while you catch up with the other neighborhood parents, teach them these street safety tips beforehand:
- Always cross at corners, traffic lights, and crosswalks.
- Look left, right, and left again before crossing the street.
- Make eye contact with stopped drivers before crossing in front of them.
- Stick to the sidewalk.
Halloween night is an important time to remind your kiddos that these street safety rules apply all year round, whether they’re headed to school or taking an evening stroll with their grandparents.
Set Ground Rules for Older Kids
The time has finally come to send your not-so-little kid out on their own to trick-or-treat with friends. But before they head out the door, make sure everyone’s on the same page about these Halloween safety rules:
- Wear a light-colored costume, use reflectors, and carry glow sticks or flashlights for visibility.
- Stay with a group of at least three other people, according to the Canadian Paediatric Society.
- Stick to a safe route that your parents have already signed off on.
- Be home or at your pickup spot at your chosen time.
- If your child has a smartwatch or cellphone, have them share their location so you can check in periodically.
Wait Till You’re Home To Dig In — No Matter Your Age
It’s not always easy for kids to resist digging into their candy supply before the night’s over — and you may be tempted to cash in on your candy tax early as well. But no one should indulge their sweet tooth until you have time to check your child’s haul in the light. FoodSafety.gov recommends telling your kids not to accept or eat the following treats:
- Homemade items, which can contain allergens and unknown ingredients.
- Candy with punctured or open wrappers.
- Any suspicious-looking treats.
Once everyone arrives home, inspect each treat and use your discretion to throw out anything that looks odd.
To avoid unauthorized snacking, set expectations ahead of time by talking to your kiddo before leaving the house. You can also pack your kids a goody bag to dig into on the trick-or-treating path.
Halloween Safety Tips for Adults
While you’re focused on keeping your little goblins safe this Halloween, don’t forget about yourself — or your home.
Make Sure Your Security System (and Cameras) Are Good To Go
Your bowl of candy isn’t the only thing that can go missing on Halloween night. To prepare yourself for the potential mischief, you should consider:
- Setting up outdoor security cameras and a video doorbell (with Halloween Quick Replies). These devices will send Motion Alerts if someone stops by, and you can use Two-Way Talk to try and prevent any ghoulish behavior.
- Installing a whole-home security system if you don’t already have one. Whether you stay inside to watch your favorite horror flick or leave home for the night, you can arm your system and get alerts on your phone if a door or window is opened or a Motion Detector is triggered.
- Enrolling in a subscription that enables video storage and sharing. Car theft and property crime-related claims increase on Halloween night, so you may need footage to send to an insurance adjuster or police officer. You can also save a video of your adorable bumblebee or princess returning home with a pillowcase full of candy to share with your friends and family.
Pay Attention on the Road
Whether you’re driving the kids to the mythical neighborhood full of king-sized candy bars or headed home from a friend’s Halloween party, here are a few road safety tips to make the trip uneventful:
- Watch for children who may be walking on the street or curb.
- Turn onto streets or driveways carefully.
- Look out for all kids, especially those in dark clothing.
- Turn your headlights on sooner than usual since little trick-or-treaters may be out early.
Halloween Safety FAQs
What Time Should You Stop Trick-or-Treating?
Your town or neighborhood may have designated trick-or-treating times, so be sure to check those first. Trick-or-treating usually starts a little before sunset for toddlers, or around 5–6 p.m. You’ll probably take your little trick-or-treaters home well before bedtime, but you can expect older kids to keep knocking until 8–9 p.m. unless local laws say otherwise.
When Can Kids Go Trick-or-Treating Without an Adult?
The answer depends on your child’s maturity, your comfort level, and the area you live in, but children over 12 are generally old enough to trick-or-treat without adult supervision. Ultimately, it’s up to you to decide if it’s safe for your kiddos to go out alone at any age.
What Houses Should Kids Avoid?
A lit porch light is a universal sign that a house is open to trick-or-treaters. If your kids notice a dark, unlit house, they should skip it and move on to the next. The same rule applies to any homes that invite children inside (unless it’s a family you know well) — trick-or-treating should be an outdoor activity only.
If you take your tots out before the sun sets, you might not be able to tell who has a porch light on, so you may want to avoid houses without decorations.
What Does a Teal Pumpkin Mean?
In the past few years, some homeowners have started offering non-food treats for kids with food allergies, so they can still participate on Halloween night. These homes put up a sign with a teal pumpkin to signify their participation in the Teal Pumpkin Project.
Teal may not be the only color pumpkin you see this Halloween. According to Good Housekeeping, Blue pumpkins can signal that a homeowner has removed decorations, lights, or candy that may trigger sensory issues for children with autism.