It seems like only last year that I was teaching everyone a few safety tricks so that Halloween could be a treat for you and your children.  Well, here we are a year later, and many of you are asking me for a few more hints so that Halloween is not a safety nightmare for anyone.

First, it is important to know that while people always worry about the safety of the treats your children bring home, the most serious injuries on Halloween involve eye injuries from carrying sharp objects, burns from flammable costumes, and injuries from collisions with cars.  If you want to prevent these from happening, here are some tips for trick-or-treaters:

  1. Remember to see and be seen. Avoid masks which can block your vision, replacing them with nontoxic hypoallergenic face paint or make-up.
  2. Wear bright-colored, non-baggy flame-resistant costumes with reflective tape.
  3. Carry a flashlight, and approach only houses that are lit in the neighborhood you are familiar with.  Wearing a necklace that glows in the dark can also help.
  4. Stay on the sidewalk at all times.
If you are the parents of a trick-or-treater, make sure your children are well fed before they go out so you can inspect what they bring home before they want to eat it.  My motto in this case is “when in doubt, throw it out.”  Even if tampering with Halloween treats is rare, it can still happen.

Accompany children 12 and younger, and review the route with older children who should be traveling in groups.  Teens should be given a time to be home. Giving them a cell phone if you can do that is also a good idea so they can reach you and you can reach them.  Remember that the smaller the trick or treat bag, the shorter the distance traveled.

If your children are overweight (or even if they are not), consider buying back their candy stash by trading it for a family weekend activity that everyone would enjoy.

If you will be giving out treats, make sure your yard is clear of debris such as hoses, wet leaves, or flower pots that can trip a child.  Keep lit pumpkins far out of the way of trick-or–treaters, or don’t light them at all to reduce the fire risk. And don’t forget that small hard candies can be a choking hazard for little ones.

Hopefully, tips like this will scare away any concerns you might have when it comes to making sure your child’s Halloween is a safe one.

Lewis First, M.D., is chief of Pediatrics at The University of Vermont Children’s Hospital at the University of Vermont Medical Center and chair of the Department of Pediatrics at the Larner College of Medicine at UVM. You can also catch “First with Kids” weekly on WOKO 98.9FM and WPTZ Channel 5, or visit the First with Kids video archives.


Lewis First, MD, is chief of Pediatrics at The University of Vermont Children’s Hospital and chair of the Department of Pediatrics at the Robert Larner, M.D. College of Medicine at the University of Vermont.

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