Sadie Holloway loves planning family-friendly parties and activities. She has a background in event planning and fundraising.
Here are some commonsense tips and suggestions to help you keep your kids, your pets, and your home safer on Halloween night.
Trick-or-Treating Safety Tips for Kids
Tips on Costumes
- Costumes should be light-colored with reflective strips so that children are more easily seen at night. Blinking bicycle lights can be attached to costumes to help improve visibility.
- Ready-made costumes should be flame resistant. Check the packaging and costume labels to be sure.
- Make sure that costumes are properly hemmed and short enough to avoid tripping. Pay attention to capes, hats and other costume accessories and remove or reduce the length of free flowing elements such as pompoms, tassles, and tentacles so they don’t get tangled around other feet or caught up on shrubs and tree branches.
- Costumes can be extremely flammable. Remind children to stay away from candles and open flames and to always keep a safe distance from any fireworks displays or outdoor fires.
- Use face paint rather than masks or things that will cover the eyes. Keep hair and from blocking your child(ren)’s peripheral vision.
- Remind children to walk, slither, and sneak on sidewalks—not in the street.
- Explain to children that calls should be made along one side of the street first and then the other, and that it's best to cross the street only at intersections or crosswalks.
- Remind children to look both ways before crossing the street to check for cars and trucks. Keep an eye out for bicyclists and skateboaders too.
- Have children plan their route in advance with an agreed upon start time and end time. Remind your children what time you expect them to be home and stress the importance of being on time.
- Trick-or-treaters should travel in groups of four or five. Young children should always be accompanied by an adult.
- Carry at least one strong flashlight within the group. Make sure the batteries are fresh before leaving the house.
- Fireworks displays should only be put on and supervised by responsible adults.
General Trick-or-Treating Rules
Make sure your children understand the agreed-upon safety rules for trick-or-treating, such as:
- Only visits homes that have a porch light on and are light up from inside.
- Do not visit homes without any lights on. Houses with poorly lit paths and dark walkways should also be passed over.
- Only accept treats at the door. Never enter the homes of strangers.
- Never get into cars or enter the homes or apartments of strangers.
- Do not change routes (unless safety requires it). Do not go beyond the designated trick-or-treating zone that you and your children have agreed upon.
How to Keep Your Pets Safe on Halloween
Fireworks, strange people at the door and unusual sights, sounds and smells on Halloween can cause pets to feel stressed out and anxious. As you plan your Halloween activities, be sure to keep the health and well-being of your pets top of mind and follow some of these tips and suggestions for keeping them safe and out of harm's way.
- Don’t dress your pet up in a costume. Even if your pet is comfortable wearing a doggy coat, don’t assume they’ll be comfortable dressed up in a bumblebee outfit, no matter cute it is. Costumes can hinder your pets ability to move freely, communicate with your or other animal, and see and hear what’s going on around them. Costumes can also be uncomfortable and may cause your dog or cat to wriggle violently to try and free himself, perhaps causing him to fall down, bump into things or knock items over onto them.
- Keep your pets indoors on Halloween. Keeping them in a secure room or living area away from the front door where they might come across trick or treaters visiting your home. A TV or radio playing in the room where they are staying can help mask outside noises such as excited children and noisy fireworks. Make sure to leave water and food in the room with your pet as well as comforting blanket or pet bed and some favorite toys. Be sure to check in on your pet from time to time to let them know he hasn’t been abandoned.
- Make sure your pet is wearing identification. Despite your best efforts to keep your pets safe indoor, if they somehow get out of your house and lost, a registered ID tag will increase your chances of being re-united with your lost furry friend.
- Don't take your pets out trick-or-treating with you. Leave them at home. Although it might feel like a fun idea to combine a dog walk with a trick-or-treating expedition around the neighborhood, think again. Fireworks, loud noises, strange special effects sounds and a host of other unusual stimuli can be distressing to a pet. Even if your dog is good with children, small children in unusual outfits could startle and scare your dog and might cause them to growl or worse, bite if he feels threatened. There’s also the risk that your dog could bolt away from you and get lost if he is frightened by a firework or other loud noise.
- Keep candy out of reach of pets. Candy is not good for pets and should be keep away from them. In the same way that too much candy can lead to obesity and diabetes, so too can it for your four-legged family members. Also, many candy is made with chemicals, additives and artificial sweeteners that are toxic to cats and dogs. If you feel like your pooch or pussy is missing out on the fun, then give them some treats and snacks made for animals.
Keeping Your Home Safe and Secure on Halloween
Once you have taken steps to make sure your kids and pets are as safe as can be on Halloween, ensure that you've eliminated hazards around your house and yard. For example:
- A safer alternative to light a pumpkin with a candle is to use a battery-powered tea light or a solar-powered LED light.
- Don't use open flames or candles anywhere near walkways, entrances or anywhere else little ghosts and goblins might tread. (Better yet, don't use candles at all.) Candles can be easily knocked over by boisterous youngsters and loose fitting, flowy costumes with capes and other decorations are could catch fire if kids get too close.
- Make sure any lights and decorations you use outside have been properly tested and are approved and safe for outdoor use in wet weather. Make sure all wires, sockets, and connectors are in good order.
Falling and Tripping Hazards
- Ensure all outdoor decorations attached to your house or assembled in your yard are properly secured so they don't come loose or get knocked down and blown over. It's your responsibility to make sure that visitors to your home and yard are safe from falling decorations.
- Keep pathways and stairs well-lit so trick or treaters don't trip and fall on your property. Look for and then eliminate tripping hazards. Clear away garden debris, exposed roots, and low-hanging tree branches.
- Make sure your porches are in good repair. Loose railings, stairs, and floorboards need to be repaired. Fix loose paving stones and fill any holes in the yard and on pathways that could present a tripping hazard. Kids are excited at Halloween and may end up cutting through yards as they rush from house to house. Don't assume they'll take the most logical path to your front door. Think ahead and make sure your property is safe all around.
General Security Tips
- Keep yard equipment such as tools and garden supplies stored out of the way. Make sure vehicles are locked and if possible park them in your garage. Keep your driveway clear so that you can see people coming and going from your house and that other trick-or-treaters can see each other too as they make their way to your front door.
- Keep doors and windows locked and always look through the peephole or window when answering the door on Halloween. Don't assume that all those who knock on your door are friendly trick-or-treaters.
Your insurance broker, fire department or community safety office may have additional information on how to make your home safe at Halloween. You can never have too much information when it comes to keeping kids safe!
Stay Safe and Have Fun!
Common sense is your best offense and defense against accidents, injuries, and predators (human and non-human).
Consult your local policing department, fire hall, insurance broker and/or community safety office for more tips and suggestions on how to keep your kids, your pets, and your home safe on Halloween.
Sources and Additional Information:
- The Canadian Red Cross, Halloween Safety
- BCSPCA, Halloween pet safety
- The Allstate Blog, Halloween Home Safety
© 2017 Sadie Holloway