Halloween safety: Tips for safe trick-or-treating and more

Plan ahead for your evening of family fun.

Child dressed in superhero costume for Halloween. | Photo courtesy of Flickr user Charlie Llewellin.
Child dressed in superhero costume for Halloween. | Photo courtesy of Flickr user Charlie Llewellin.

Trick-or-treating memories should be happy and fun for families. There is always the potential for danger if precautions are not taken. By planning ahead for your evening of family fun, children and adults will be able to enjoy a memorable evening. Review these tips:


  • All treats should be checked by an adult before they are eaten. Children need to understand why this is being done.
  • Save treats wrapped in original, unopened wrappers. Throw away candy if it appears old, has tears or holes or appears to have been opened.
  • Allow your child to eat fruit and homemade treats from only persons you know and trust. Be sure to check these items carefully as well.
  • Keep all treats away from your pets, chocolate can be poisonous.
  • Look for non-edible treats such as stickers, pencils, magnets, bracelets, or other inexpensive trinkets.


  • Serve a festive meal to your family before going out to trick-or-treat, give them some candy from home while trick-or-treating to prevent dipping into their bags before you can inspect the treats.
  • Carry a flashlight or glow stick, wear reflective clothing or tape, watch for cars. It may be dark, during scheduled trick-or-treating hours.
  • Adults should accompany little ones, ensure visits are made to homes that are well lit and to families you know.


  • Wear flame-retardant costumes that are roomy enough for extra layers of clothing.
  • Choose brightly colored costumes, or light colors, if wearing something dark, place reflective tape in a few strategic areas.
  • Utilize face makeup instead of a mask. Masks can obstruct views, causing trips and falls. Make sure all masks, wigs and other disguises on the head fit securely allowing full vision.
  • Check face makeup to ensure it is nontoxic. Be prepared to wash with soap and water if you detect any type of allergic reaction. It is a good idea to do a trial run prior to applying face makeup on Halloween night, to determine if there will be skin irritations, also to get the idea of how your little goblin will look.
  • If accessorizing your little one’s costume, check to make sure the swords, arrows etc., are made of soft or flexible material.


Carving pumpkins is a fun family activity, children can draw faces on the pumpkin or scrape out the contents, and an adult should do the actual carving. These decorated gourds need to be kept away from areas where trick-or-treaters will be walking; an accidental brush of a costume against an open flame could be disastrous. Consider a flashlight or glow stick as an alternative for indoor lighting or outdoor lighting.

Glow sticks

Glow sticks and necklaces make great props to help illuminate in the darkness or decorate a costume. They contain an active ingredient called Dibutyl Phthalate; in small amounts it is very safe. Sometimes the sticks, bracelets or necklaces may break due to tugging or the kids chewing on them. If the containers get on the skin, it could cause irritation. If the contents come in contact with eyes there may be burning or get ingested there could be nausea or burning.

Dry ice

Some Halloween parties include dry ice in the scheme of things. Dry ice when swallowed actually burns from freezing. Having dry ice in a punch isn’t a problem as long as it is not consumed. Direct contact with the skin can cause tissue damage. It is important to wash skin immediately with lukewarm water. If exposure occurs call the Poison Control Center.

Michigan State University Extension suggests families always have the Poison Control Center’s phone number on hand 1-800-222-1222. Halloween and other celebrations, where things may not always be routine tend to be the time when accidental poisonings can occur. Be alert, children are curious it only takes a second for them to stray, take the time to ensure items are put away that normally may not be and keep our kids safe.

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