Monday, October 27, 2008

Safety Checklist for Halloween

A Halloween Safety Checklist

October 30, 2007

Halloween is spooky, especially if you’re a safety professional. Or a mom. On Halloween, we let the kids do the things we tell them not to do 364 days of the year. We let the kids walk the streets at night. We tell them to take candy from strangers. We let them use sharp knives - to carve pumpkins. And then there are the candles and tripping hazards everywhere.

Sure, it’s fun. But it’s a safety nightmare. So, every year at this time, I write up Halloween safety advice for parents in SafetyXChange. This year, I’ve decided to assemble the tips I’ve laid down over the years into a monster checklist - pardon the pun. Please take a few minutes to review this checklist with your family.

Costume Safety

  • Choose bright costumes or add strips of reflective tape for visibility
  • Avoid costumes that are long and flowing to prevent trips and entanglements
  • Avoid masks, scarves and hats that restrict vision; instead use non-toxic makeup or face paint
  • Look for “flame resistant” or “flame retardant” labels on costumes and accessories
  • Avoid high-heeled shoes and instead choose sturdy, well-fitting footwear

Trick-or-Treating Safety

  • Young trick-or-treaters should be accompanied by an adult
  • Older kids who are going it alone should plan their route with you
  • The route should be restricted to a neighborhood you know well
  • Older kids going it alone should be clear about the time you expect them home
  • Rules for trick-or-treaters (younger and older):

  • Stay in groups of three or more
  • Know where the Block Parent houses are
  • Cross at crosswalks
  • Use the sidewalk
  • Carry a flashlight and batteries and a cell phone, if you have one
  • Try to keep one hand free at all times (for holding handrails or catching yourself if you trip)
  • Trick-or-treat only at homes that are well-lit
  • Don’t enter homes or apartments; the front door is as far as you need to go
  • Don’t use short-cuts through alleys, yards or parks
  • Walk, don’t run. Unseen objects on lawns or uneven terrain are tripping hazards
  • Don’t eat any treats until you’ve inspected them

Safety At Home


  • Don’t let small children carve the pumpkin. Let them draw a face instead
  • Use battery-powered jack o’lantern candles instead of real candles
  • Keep flammable decorations, such as dried flowers and cornstalks, well away from heat sources and open flames, including candles, light bulbs and portable heaters
  • Be sure that decorations don’t block exits from your home
  • Examine all the candy your kids bring home, throwing out anything that’s been opened, not in its original wrapping and homemade (if you don’t know the source)
  • Watch also for any treats that might pose a choking hazard to children three years old and younger


  • Turn on your porch light
  • Remove obstacles from your yard that could trip trick-or-treaters
  • Sweep leaves off your sidewalk and steps
  • Place lighted pumpkins on a sturdy surface, far from the reach (and costumes) of small trick-or-treaters


A final suggestion: ask the experts. Talk to your children about how to make Halloween safer and healthier. After all, they’re the ones going out there. You might be surprised at what they notice. And the more you talk about safety with your family, the more they’ll start to think about it themselves, too. Happy Halloween, everyone.

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