kids in costume, ready to trick-or-treat

Trick or Treating Safety Tips

Updated September 4, 2021 . AmFam Team

This Halloween, you may have to consider social distancing in addition to traffic, visibility and costume safety. Here's our tips for safely trick-or-treating.

Halloween is one of the most exciting holidays — for children and adults! Playing dress up is always fun and free candy is great, too. Safety is first though, and, like last Halloween, you may have to consider social distancing in addition to traffic, visibility and costume safety. To keep this holiday on a positive note, a little pre-planning and precaution while trick-or-treating can keep everyone safe and smiling.

How to Trick or Treat Safely

You and your family can have a fun and spooky night of trick-or-treating if you keep a few general things in mind to stay safe, for instance:

  • Walk — don’t run — from house to house using sidewalks when possible
  • Be aware of and avoid open flames like candles in jack-o'-lanterns
  • Avoid homemade treats and only eat factory-wrapped candy
  • Remove your child’s makeup soon after trick-or-treating to avoid skin irritation

There are more ways to help make sure trick-or-treating is a worry-free evening. Our handy list of safety tips for Halloween is great to review before the big night out so everyone can focus on fun. Here’s what to keep in mind:

Follow the rules of the road

While the lure of a decorated house across the street can be tempting, it’s important to stay on track and cross only at corners or in crosswalks. Remind the kiddos to look both ways to check for traffic. And, if you’ll be behind the wheel, make sure to go beyond normal safe driving habits — it’s smart to be extra vigilant for everyone’s safety.

Go in groups

Not only is traveling in a pack safer, it’s also more fun! While you may want to keep your family together for health safety, if you do allow your children to stray from your pod, here are some guidelines to follow:

  • Children under 12 should have an adult along to supervise.
  • If a child is old enough to trick-or-treat without an adult, he or she should still go with a group of friends and they should stick to familiar houses and neighborhoods.
  • If you have a group of older children heading out alone, consider turning on a mobile tracker app so you can follow their progress from home.
  • If your kids are going out on their own, set up a timeline expectation. For instance, have the kids check in at specific times throughout the night and set a curfew.

Be visible

Reflective tape should be used as much as possible on costumes, candy bags, strollers and wagons. Consider bringing glow sticks and flashlights as well. This tip is two-fold — you want to be visible to others so they see you crossing the street or coming down the sidewalk, and you’ll appreciate the extra light when trying to maneuver up unfamiliar steps, sidewalks and streets. Win-win!

Ensure your child’s costume is safe

In addition to adding reflective elements to costumes, check that they’re easy to walk in and don’t restrict breathing or vision.

If your child is going as a pirate, warrior princess or anything with a pointy accessory like a sword, make sure it isn’t a safety hazard. Choose accessories made of soft foam over hard plastic so if your trick-or-treaters get into a battle, they won’t be harmed.

When candy is involved, children are going to get excited. If you can’t find a costume that’s easy to move in, try trimming or altering it so they don’t trip and fall. Remember, make sure your child doesn’t run from house to house and that they are always within your sight.

Make healthy food choices before and after

While children love piles of candy, their parents typically aren’t as thrilled. A great trick you can play on your little ones is having their favorite, healthy meal right before trick or treating so they’re less likely to pig out on candy. You can also opt to hand out non-candy items to the ghosts and goblins that come to your home. Little toys, trinkets, coloring books and other small, non-food treats still inspire excitement and there is less chance of empty calorie leftovers tempting you.

Inspect the treats you receive

While food tampering is very rare, going through the goodie pile at the end of the night is important so your child doesn’t eat anything they shouldn’t. Remove homemade treats, candy your child may be allergic to and any other questionable sweets.

How to Trick or Treat Safely

While out trick-or-treating, there are a few more things to consider to keep you and your family safe:

Know the rules beforehand

Before heading out, check to see if your neighborhood’s homeowners association or wherever you will be has established rules or requirements for trick-or-treating. If there are rules or restrictions in place, follow them and make sure your family follows them too for the safety of others.

Go with just your family

If you usually travel in a large group, consider trick-or-treating with just your family. And try to remain six feet apart from other groups.

Safely give and receive candy

To safely distribute candy to kids trick-or-treating while social distancing, consider making social distancing markers on your driveway with chalk to encourage groups staying six feet apart. You can also wear a mask and gloves or use kitchen tongs when distributing candy

Wear a proper mask

If your municipality requires masks or you prefer them for your family’s safety mask, remember that a costume mask that covers your child’s entire face and has airholes in it may not meet the safe mask criteria. Instead, try to incorporate the safe mask into your child’s costume, like a zombie doctor or nurse! Or consider other ways they can accessorize their costume, like with a hat or face paint.

Halloween can be a ghoulishly good time, but being safe and health conscious during the festivities is important. Hopefully these trick-or-treating safety tips set you up for a spectacular, spooky holiday and memories that will last a lifetime.

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