Last year I taught you a few safety tricks to make Halloween a treat for you and your children. A year later, many of you want a few more tips to prevent Halloween from becoming a safety nightmare.

First, the treats your children bring home are not usually the source of injuries on Halloween. Most injuries are caused by carrying sharp objects (to the eyes), flammable costumes that cause burns, and collisions with cars. Here are some tips for preventing Halloween injuries while trick-or-treating:

  • Remember to see and be seen.
  • Avoid masks that can block your vision. Replace them with nontoxic, hypoallergenic face paint or make-up.
  • Wear brightly colored, non-baggy, flame-retardant costumes with reflective tape.
  • Carry a flashlight, stay on the sidewalk, and approach only lit houses in a neighborhood you are familiar with.

If you are the parent of a trick-or-treater, make sure to feed your children before they go out. This way, 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. And don’t forget, small hard candies can be a choking hazard for the little ones.

Accompany children under 10. Make sure older children travel in groups and know the route they plan to take. Give them a time to be home.

They should only go to homes that have a porch light on, preferably one they know. They should never enter a home or car to receive a treat. Give them a flashlight and, if possible, a cell phone so they can reach you, and vice versa. A smaller trick-or-treat bag means a shorter distance traveled.

If you are at a home that will be giving out treats, clear a path for children. Make sure your yard is clear of debris such as hoses, wet leaves or flower pots that can trip a child. And don’t forget to keep lit pumpkins far out of the way of trick-or-treaters. A candle in a pumpkin can be a fire hazard, so consider using a glow stick or battery-operated candle instead. It’s a safer way to go and can do just as good a job lighting up that pumpkin.

Hopefully, tips like these will scare away any concerns you might have about Halloween safety for everyone.

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.  You can also catch “First with Kids” weekly on WOKO 98.9FM and MyNBC 5, or visit the “First with Kids” video archives at

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