Safe Halloween

It seems like only last year that I shared (or should I say scared) some Halloween safety tips with parents. While that can certainly be helpful, I thought this year I’d unmask a few safety tips aimed directly at children so that their Halloween is far from frightening when it comes to staying safe. So kids, if you want more than a ghost of a chance of being safe on Halloween, read on!

Halloween costume safety

First, make sure you can see through your own costume and you can be seen by others. That means avoid masks or oversize hats if possible. These can reduce your ability to see. Instead, try using face paints. You can also put reflective tape or a glow in the dark necklace on your costume so others can see you moving through the neighborhood at night. Additionally, avoid swords and other props that can get in your way. Finally, make sure you are wearing shoes that fit rather than floppy ones you can trip over.

Keep safe with a buddy

If you are over the age of 10 and going out without your parents, take at least two friends with you. Carry a flashlight, watch, and a cell phone if possible and walk, don’t run.  Make sure your costumes don’t drag on the ground and never trick or treat alone. Stay on the sidewalk! However, if there is no sidewalk, walk on the left side of the road facing traffic.

Work with your parents to plan your route in advance and how long you will be out, especially if they are not going with you. Approach only houses that are lit. You should be very cautious of strangers and strange pets, so never go inside a house of someone you don’t know. Don’t forget to say thanks when you do get a treat.

Make sure your treats aren’t tricks

Speaking of treats, remember to eat a great dinner before going out to get filled up. Don’t start eating your treats until you and your parents have had a chance to inspect everything and make sure it’s safe to eat. This is especially important if you have a food allergy or a smaller child nearby who might choke on small pieces they find. Get rid of anything that looks unwrapped or tampered with. Remember, when in doubt, throw it out.

Healthy options other than candy

Finally, if you are concerned about how healthy (or non-healthy) all that candy can be, consider selling it or trading it back to your parents. Ask them if you can trade the candy back in exchange for a special outing or activity you would love to do with them. Then, your parents can give you back the candy on special occasions in the months ahead.

Hopefully safety tips like these prevent any “boo-boos” and make Halloween a treat for you, your friends, and family to enjoy. 

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

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