October 17, 2017
As you get ready to take your kids out for a night of trick-or-treating, there are some important Halloween safety tips to keep in mind. Use this Halloween safety checklist as you plan for the big night, and keep your kids safe as they trick-or-treat.
While everyone has a different opinion on how old is too old to trick-or-treat, I think the more important Halloween safety question is how old is too young to trick-or-treat alone. I suggest having an adult along for the fun when your kids are under 12. If you have a very responsible tween or young teen who is still excited to trick-or-treat, you can allow them to go out with a group of kids (preferably with at least one trustworthy adult), but you need to set firm boundaries for where they are allowed to go and when they need to get home.
When you are planning Halloween costumes with your kids, you have to think about creating their dream costume for trick-or-treating while keeping it age-appropriate, fun, and for the littlest trick-or-treaters in your family, easy to take off for trips to the bathroom. Here are a few Halloween safety tips for costumes to keep in mind as you are creating the perfect look.
Take this professional costume designer’s advice when helping your kids plan for their Halloween costume:
Okay. She’s actually cartoon character who designs costumes for super heroes, and capes don’t have to be dangerous on Halloween, but her point is still valid — your costume needs to work well for the activities you are planning to do.
An important part of a well-fitting costume is making sure it doesn’t have any pieces that are too long and will be dragging on the ground and tripping up your kid. If you aren’t into sewing, a little fabric tape can help you hem a princess dress or trench coat to make them short enough for easy walking and running.
You want to make sure the costume will keep your kid both warm enough and not too hot while they are walking around in the evening for several hours. Giant butterfly wings might be cute, but if you are in the north and need to wear jackets, they might not be the best choice for trick-or-treating outside. And costumes that are too hot will cause you to carry extra things all night as your kid strips off layers of costume.
Light or bright colors are best for Halloween, but some costumes have to be dark. If your child is a black cat or batman, you just need to make sure to add some reflective stickers to the costume to make them more visible to drivers. Glow sticks, glow necklaces and glow bracelets are another great way to light up your kids (they can also be a fun candy-alternative to hand out at your house). I also suggest adding reflective paint or stickers to your kids’ treat bags for greater visibility.
There are some costumes that make shoes easy, like a football player, doctor, or Mr Rogers. Other costumes are a little trickier when you go to add footwear — the Grinch doesn’t wear shoes, ancient Greeks and Romans wore sandals, and Wonder Woman has those great boots with a tall heel. Your kids are planning to go out in the dark and walk possibly unfamiliar sidewalks and neighborhoods, so sandals and heels are not a good idea.
They need closed toed sneakers with great support. This is also not a great night to buy a brand new pair of shoes, have your kids wear shoes they have already broken in, this will help your family make it through the night without toe injuries, blisters, or having to carry kids after the first few houses have been visited.
Masks can limit your kid’s range of vision, making it very hard to see what is right in front of them, much less a car coming from the side. If your child doesn’t have allergies or skin sensitivity, non-toxic face paint can be a much better choice. There are thousands of tutorials on YouTube to help you create the perfect look. Make sure to test any face paint on a small patch of skin a few days before Halloween to make sure your kid doesn’t have a bad reaction an hour before trick-or-treating starts.
I know accessories can make a look, but I’m not a huge fan of them for Halloween costumes. Swords, canes, clubs, wands, and other accessories can have sharp edges and cause injury during a fall. When possible, it’s best to avoid them. Also, it’s just one more thing for your kid to carry all night…which, let’s be honest, probably means eventually YOU will be carrying it. A bucket of candy and a flashlight are enough things for little hands to hold on to all night long.
It is unlikely there will be anything nefarious in the candy your kids bring home, but it’s important to check it anyway. Look out for any wrappers that appear to have been tampered with or have any small holes or punctures in them. Throw out any homemade treats that might have found their way into the candy bucket.
As a pediatric nurse practitioner, I have to say this last thing: don’t let your kids eat TOO much candy in one sitting. Those day-after-Halloween stomach aches are never any fun.
Author: Dani Stringer, MSN, CPNP, PMHS – founder of KidNurse and MomNurse Academy