Halloween 2010: Make It a Treat This Year

Close your eyes…think about your favorite childhood Halloween memory? What made halloween-kidsit special?? Was it the year you got the costume you really wanted?? Or maybe the year you got so much candy you had a belly-ache all week, but it didn’t matter?? Think back for a minute. Parents who joined in trick-or-treating came to calm our fears…not their own. Halloween was a kid’s holiday – pure and simple. So when did scary go from what your child was going to wear to fear for their safety?? Can we give them back a kid’s Halloween?

Truth be told, times have changed, but we have too. Parents today have access to so much more information than our own parents did…it’s what we do with it that makes the difference. I propose the following: I’m going to share with you the top safety tips from some of the best sources I know (…my thanks to the American Academy of Pediatrics, the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children and Dr Kristie McNealy)……and in return I’m going to ask the following:

Take 10 minutes – read through the list – highlight the top 4 or 5 tips that most apply to you and your child – and then give yourself a break and toss the rest. We can drive ourselves crazy trying to anticipate every “bad thing” that could possibly happen or we can be smart, prepared and hopefully a little more relaxed…and maybe, just maybe we can give our kids a little glimpse of the Halloween we loved.

Trick-or-Treat…Safely (AAP)

  • Plan costumes that are bright and reflective. Make sure that shoes fit well and that costumes are short enough to prevent tripping, entanglement or contact with flame.
  • Consider adding reflective tape or striping to costumes and Trick-or-Treat bags for greater visibility.
  • Because masks can limit or block eyesight, consider non-toxic makeup and decorative hats as safer alternatives. Hats should fit properly to prevent them from sliding over eyes. For the littlest trick-or-treaters, you may want to avoid masks and hats altogether. (Pediatric Safety note: Please keep in mind that studies have found that many face paints have lead and other toxic ingredients, so research any face paints carefully before applying http://ow.ly/xldL )
  • When shopping for costumes, wigs and accessories look for and purchase those with a label clearly indicating they are flame resistant.
  • If a sword, cane, or stick is a part of your child’s costume, make sure it is not sharp or too long. A child may be easily hurt by these accessories if he stumbles or trips.
  • Obtain flashlights with fresh batteries (or glow-sticks) for all children and their escorts.
  • Teach children how to call 9-1-1 (or their local emergency number) if they have an emergency or become lost.
  • Feed your kids a meal or small snack before they head out so they’ll be less tempted to sample candy along the way before you’ve had the chance to check it out.
  • Wait until children are home to sort and check treats. Though tampering is rare, a responsible adult should closely examine all treats and throw away any spoiled, unwrapped or suspicious items. Also, remind kids not to eat or drink anything that is given to them until you look it over. This includes any potions or weird substances that might be part of a haunted house or Halloween decorations. Make sure kids know that even though things may look like food, they might not be.

Don’t Let Food Allergies Spoil the Fun (Dr McNealy)

  • Review the Rules – If they are old enough to understand, remind your child which foods are safe, and which are not. If there are candies or treats that they should be sure to avoid, discuss that. Tell them to bring their loot to you, so you can be sure to remove anything that might be harmful. Also let them know what to do if they do eat something that they might be allergic too.
  • Read Labels: When you check over your kid’s Halloween candy, remember to read labels. Formulations change pretty frequently, so you should even check foods that have been safe in the past. Remove anything that doesn’t have an ingredient list.
  • Keep Your Epi-Pen or Allergy Medication Handy: Remember that accidents happen, and be prepared as usual with your child’s epi-pen, or whatever medication your doctor recommends for an allergic reaction.
  • Keep Safe Treats on Hand: Keep some safe candy, treats or small toys on hand to replace anything you have to confiscate. If you have the chance, you can even make up a few treat bags to drop with friends or neighbors, so you’ll know that at least a few people on your trick-or-treat route will have surprises that your child can keep and enjoy.

And Unfortunately Because There Could Be Predators Out There… (NCMEC)

  • Plan a trick-or-treating route in familiar neighborhoods with well-lit streets. Avoid unfamiliar neighborhoods, streets that are isolated, or homes that are poorly lit inside or outside.
  • Never send young children out alone. They should always be accompanied by a parent or another trusted adult. Older children should always travel in groups.
  • Always walk younger children to the door to receive treats and don’t let children enter a home unless you are with them.
  • Be sure children do not approach any vehicle, occupied or not, unless you are with them.
  • Teach children to say “NO!” or “this is not my mother/father” in a loud voice if someone tries to get them to go somewhere, accept anything other than a treat, or leave with them. And teach them that they should make every effort to get away by kicking, screaming and resisting.
  • Remind children to remain alert and report suspicious incidents to parents and/or law enforcement.

Remember – you have 10 minutes with this list…and then move on – smart, prepared and relaxed. Make Halloween 2010 the year you all get a treat!



  1. Dress Safely on Halloween: American Academy of Pediatrics, October 2008
  2. Trick-or-Treat Food Allergy Safety: Dr Kristie McNealy October 26, 2009
  3. Ten Things Parents Can Do To Make Halloween Safer: National Center for Missing and Exploited Kids, October 2010

About the Author

Stefanie Zucker is President and co-founder of Pediatric Medical and Managing Director and co-founder of Axios Partners, a strategy consulting firm. After a number of years spent researching the safety issues associated with transporting children on ambulances she became a child health safety advocate and formed Pediatric Safety with a goal of creating a world-wide movement of parents and caregivers inspired to protect the health and safety of kids. Stefanie is a member of the PedSafe Team


4 Responses to “Halloween 2010: Make It a Treat This Year”

  1. The reminder to remember that Halloween is a kid’s holiday is very welcome reminder. Too often we get so caught up in having everything perfect, safe, and according to plan we forget to roll with the punches and have fun. I used to make my kid’s costumes when they were young and the year of the most elaborate costume ever for my son (complete with battery-operated glowing eyes under his hood) he went to school, came home at lunch, said he felt self-conscious and changed to his soccer uniform. One of those moments where you have to stop yourself and say, ‘who is this about anyway?’. My son knew I cared enough to make the costume and that I cared enough not to make him wear it – and he and his band of friends (following the tips above!) had another memorable Halloween. Give them the tools to keep safe and then let them have fun!
    .-= Rebecca Wear Robinson´s last blog ..How do you cut death rates 17 =-.

  2. Thanks for the great tips Stefanie!

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