Advance with MUSC Health

33+ Tips on How to Keep Kids Safe on Halloween

Advance With MUSC Health
September 20, 2022
Dr. Tim Horgan

Kids and families continue to return to traditions and celebrations, and few can match the thrill and excitement of Halloween.

Pediatrician Tim Horgan, D.O., at MUSC Children's Health Primary Care at Summey Medical Pavilion, offers his tips for keeping trick-or-treaters safe this season.

First things first: "If you can avoid driving the night of Halloween, please do," says Horgan.

Children are four times more likely to be struck by cars and more than twice as likely to be hit and killed on Halloween than on any other day of the year, reports the National Institutes of Health's National Library of Medicine.

If you must be out in a car, says Horgan, drive slowly and watch for children crossing at all points of the road. To best spot kids, turn headlights on early. Check local municipal websites for any road closures.

"Many towns enforce trick-or-treating rules and guidelines, including specifying locations and times, so check with your local government to learn more," advises Horgan.

Also, mind the weather, says Horgan. "In the Lowcountry, it can be in the 80s on Halloween, so make sure your child stays cool and hydrated."

Pre-Halloween Precautions

  • Remove tripping hazards such as cords and decorations near your front door, steps, porch, and yard.
  • Check for leaves and yard debris, too.
  • Make sure outdoor lights are on.
  • Keep pets safe from kids and kids safe from pets.

Danger-free Dressing: Safer Costumes

  • Opt for Halloween costumes that are lightweight, light-colored, bright, and reflective.
  • Choose costumes and wigs labeled "flame-resistant" or "flame-retardant."
  • Use face paint. Masks can make it hard for kids to see and breathe.
  • Pick props that are short and flexible. Sharp, long swords or sticks could injure a child if they trip and fall.
  • Do not use decorative contact lenses without an eye exam and prescription from an eye care professional.
  • You might add reflective tape and stickers to outfits and bags.
  • Arm kids with flashlights and glowsticks.

Fearless Festivities

  • Instead of carving a pumpkin, let children use markers or paint to decorate it.
  • Hey adults, you, too! A small pumpkin-specific saw (sold with Halloween items) is a safer bet than a kitchen knife when creating your jack-o-lantern masterpiece.
  • How about a glow stick to light the pumpkin instead of a candle?
  • If using a candle, votive candles are safest. Never leave candles unattended.

Prudent Paths

  • Go with your trick-or-treaters under the age of 12.
  • Go only to homes with porch lights on. Try to go to homes you know in your neighborhood.
  • Stay on sidewalks on well-lit streets.
  • Remind kids to walk, not run.
  • Make sure children cross streets at crosswalks and in groups, and never cut across yards.

If older children are trick-or-treating alone

  • Go over the route/plan with them.
  • Agree on the return time.
  • Make sure they carry a cell phone and flashlight.
  • Remind them never to enter a home or car for a treat.
  • Review how to call 9-1-1.
  • Insist they stay in a group, remain on well-lit streets, and stay on sidewalks.

With his own grade-school kids, Horgan makes sure to go over what to do if they get separated, including where to meet.

Take Caution with the Candy

  • Make sure your child has a healthy meal before going trick-or-treating.
  • Help kids check treats to make sure they're sealed.
  • Throw away any unwrapped or suspicious treats. While tampering is rare, it can happen.
  • Constantly monitor what your child has in their mouth while trick-or-treating. Be mindful of choking hazards, especially with infants or toddlers.
  • Choose healthy options for kids coming to your door, including dried fruits, pretzels, granola bars, or even non-edibles like glow sticks.
  • Have a plan for the night's sugary bounty. You might decide to allow more treats on Halloween, then agree on a healthy limit over the next few days, such as one piece after dinner.

"We have a rule that our kids are not to eat anything while trick-or-treating," says Horgan, "but they can have two pieces when we get home. The same rule applies to me: I can't eat any of their candy while trick-or-treating and am allowed only two pieces once home," he laughs.