Halloween 2011: Tips From the Experts to Keep Kids Safe

It’s that time again…

What is your little one going to be for Halloween this year?? A ghost, a gorilla…maybe even Gaga (…Lady Gaga that is)??? Well whatever he or she chooses to be this year, one thing we want them ALL to be is SAFE! With that in mind we’ve gathered up the best Halloween tips and tricks that we could find from the most reliable safety sources we know.

Full credit…and our thanks go out to them.


  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Do not use decorative contact lenses without an eye examination and a prescription from an eye care professional. They can cause pain, inflammation, and serious eye disorders and infections, which may lead to permanent vision loss.


  • A parent or responsible adult should always accompany young children on their neighborhood rounds.
  • If your older children are going alone, plan and review the route that is acceptable to you. Agree on a specific time when they should return home.
  • Obtain flashlights with fresh batteries for all children and their escorts.
  • Only go to homes with a porch light on and never enter a home or car for a treat.
  • Because pedestrian injuries are the most common injuries to children on Halloween, remind Trick-or Treaters:
    • Stay in a group and communicate where they will be going.
    • Carry a cell phone for quick communication.
    • Remain on well-lit streets and always use the sidewalk. Never cut across yards or use alleys.
    • Only cross the street as a group in established crosswalks. Never cross between parked cars or out driveways.
    • If no sidewalk is available, walk at the far edge of the roadway facing traffic.
    • Don’t assume the right of way. Motorists may have trouble seeing Trick-or-Treaters. Just because one car stops, doesn’t mean others will!
  • If you’re out driving:
    • Slow down and be especially alert in residential neighborhoods. Children are excited on Halloween and may move in unpredictable ways.
    • Anticipate heavy pedestrian traffic and turn your headlights on earlier in the day so you can spot children from greater distances.
    • Remember that costumes can limit children’s visibility and they may not be able to see your vehicle.


  • A good meal prior to parties and trick-or-treating will discourage youngsters from filling up on Halloween treats.
  • 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.
  • Remind kids to brush before (and after) eating candy: Tooth decay and cavities occur when sugar reacts to bacteria and dental plaque. Brushing before candy consumption reduces the amount of bacteria and plaque on the teeth.
  • Watch out for hard candy: Don’t just monitor the amount of sugar a child consumes, but also how long they keep sweet treats in their mouths. Kids should eat the candy right away, limit chewy candies that stick to teeth, as well as hard candies, which will be slowly eaten.
  • Monitor overall candy consumption: There are two recommended options.
    • Keep candy consumption limited to a few pieces a day given with a meal or a snack.
    • Alternatively, have the child eat whatever the amount the adult decides at one setting, and then have them brush their teeth afterwards and give or donate the remaining candy.


  • Plan an alternate activity, such as going to the movies, hosting a slumber party, or having a scavenger hunt around the neighborhood for safe treats or other items.
  • When trick-or-treating, carry your child’s emergency medicines.
  • Let the kids dress up and run house to house, while you carry a safe snack in case they want one. Bring wipes to clean the little hands first!
  • Give neighbors safe Halloween treats in advance to hand out to your food allergic child.
  • Prepare a container filled with safe treats in advance, and then swap it for the treats collected.
  • Try a variation of the Tooth Fairy: Sort through unsafe candy, then leave it in a safe spot for a “Sugar Sprite” or “Candy Fairy” who exchanges it for a small gift, toy, or money. [
  • Trade unsafe candy for allergen-safe treats or age-appropriate non-food items once your children return home. Non-food ideas include coloring books, storybooks, pencils, stickers, stuffed animals, toys, cash and play dough.
  • If permissible, donate leftover candy to children who may not be able to go out and trick or treat.
  • Check all ingredients. Remember that treat-size candy may have different ingredients or may be made on different machinery than the same regular-size candy.


  • Make sure wireless phones are fully charged.
  • Pre-program contact information of parents, neighbors and emergency services into your and your child’s speed dial, and be sure they know how to access these numbers with ease.
  • Establish boundaries – Families should have in place a familiarized route for children to follow while out on the town. Consider a small tracking device that can easily slip into your child’s candy bag like the Garmin GTU 10 and follow them via PC or mobile phone.
  • Set up periodic alarms with Halloween-themed tones as a reminder for trick-or-treaters to text or call home between candy collecting stops.

Wishing you and your family a safe, happy and healthy Halloween!!



  1. American Academy of Pediatrics: Halloween Safety Tips
  2. American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry: AAPD Offers Halloween Tooth To-Dos For A Fun and Healthy Holiday
  3. Kids with Food Allergies Foundation: Take the Tricks Out of Treats
  4. Safe Kids Halloween: A Night for Treats, Not Tragedies
  5. AT&T: Halloween Safety Tips for Parents


AAPD Offers Halloween Tooth To-Dos For A Fun and Healthy Holiday


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


3 Responses to “Halloween 2011: Tips From the Experts to Keep Kids Safe”

  1. I’m lucky to have a great neighborhood to have my kids trick or treat in but terribly unlucky that I’m scheduled to work so my ex gets to have all the fun!

  2. Angelia Sims says:

    I missed trick or treating with my little ones. I had a class last night, but I know they had fun. Their mom’s neighborhood is great though and everyone watches out for everyone.

    Great tips (as always!)

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