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8 Rules of Halloween Safety for Trick-or-Treaters and Their Parents

Including what to look for when checking candy, according to the National Safety Council and the American Academy of Pediatrics.

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Photography by: Philip Newton

1. Wear reflective, flame-resistant costumes

If your children will be going trick-or-treating, choose bright-colored costumes that will reflect light when walking around the neighborhood and flame-resistant material that won't catch fire if the child accidentally comes in contact with a jack-o'-lantern candle. Darker costumes without reflective elements can become more noticeable by adding reflective tape to parts of the costume. You can also add reflective tape to the trick-or-treat bag. Make sure that their costume and shoes fit properly to avoid the possibility of tripping or coming into contact with flame. Yes, the superhero cape is really cool, but keep it at a length that her little feet won't snag in it.

 

2. Go trick-or-treating in groups

Younger children should never go trick-or-treating unaccompanied. If you're unable to go along with your child, make sure to have a responsible and trusted adult go with your child. You can also allow your child to participate in a trick-or-treat group with other children, but make sure that there are enough adults to ensure the safety of the group. Older children can be allowed to go trick-or-treating without a parent, but determine their candy route ahead of time. If they have a cell phone, they should call you to check in at certain times and should come home at a set time. All children should be familiar with how to call for emergency help, such as dialing 9-1-1, if they get lost, separated from their group or another emergency arises.

 

[RELATED: 9 Easy-to-Make Halloween Costumes For Kids]
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Photography by: Aaron Dyer

3. Watch for oncoming traffic

Don't cross the street until you've looked both ways. You and your child should follow traffic laws, such as only crossing at intersections, when the light is red or when the crosswalk light says it's okay to cross. Motorists should make sure that they have their headlights on and drive slowly through neighborhoods where kids might be trick-or-treating. If you're driving, you want to be able to stop at a moment's notice if a child were to run across the street without warning.

 

4. Use face paint instead of wearing a mask

Masks can obscure your vision, so try painting on that scary Halloween face instead. Choose non-toxic, washable face paints to get the same spooky effects a mask can give without sacrificing your eyesight. You and your children need to be able to check your surroundings at all times, and a mask could hinder your ability to do that. Another danger in wearing a mask is that the mask can restrict your ability to breathe. They can be hot and suffocating, so choosing to use face paint instead of wearing a mask can make a huge difference in seeing and breathing well while in costume.

 

5. Only carry safe costume accessories

Objects like swords, knives, and other accessories should be short, soft, and flexible.

 

6. Carry flashlights

Flashlights will help you and your children to see much better in the dark. You can check for raised sidewalks, tree branches and glass while walking from house to house. Your flashlights should have fresh or fully charged batteries that can last an entire night of trick-or-treating. Visibility is your best defense for preventing accidents, so make sure that you can see well and be seen well in the dark.

 

[MAKE IT: "Flashy Lights" for Halloween]
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7. Only go to houses with their porch lights on

If a house doesn't have a porch light on, then they aren't participating in trick-or-treat night. For your safety and their privacy, do not go to those houses to ask for candy. Children should also be told not to enter cars or leave with strangers for the promise of more treats. The safest way to receive candy on trick-or-treat night is on a lighted porch, outside of the house. Let children know that they must say "no" and leave if someone tells them that they need to enter the house in order to get candy. Another way to stay safe is to never go onto a porch alone. Children should have an adult with them or be part of a group when going onto porches for trick-or-treating.

 

8. Know how to check Halloween candy

Let your child know that they are not allowed to eat any of their treats until they've come home and it's been checked out by you. Throw out any unwrapped or homemade candy. You don't know if the candy has been tampered with or includes ingredients that might cause an allergic reaction. If the candy is wrapped, make sure that it hasn't been opened, has any unusual bumps or lumps, or punctures in the wrapping. Check the candy inside for discoloration and unusual smell. Once you've verified the safety of your child's candy, let them enjoy it! 

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