Halloween is truly a holiday that everyone can appreciate. I mean, who doesn’t love putting on costumes and eating candy? For many kids, this could even be their first time trick-or-treating. It’s important to keep things safe, first and foremost, especially since children will be going house to house, possibly getting into and out of cars, or heading to Halloween parties.
Before Halloween, it’s best to sit down with your children about having a fun and safe night. Cathy Pedrayes, a Greenlight ambassador, TikTok’s ‘Mom Friend’, and author of The Mom Friend Guide to Everyday Safety and Security is going to offer us some tips for a safe and fun Halloween night.
How to Talk to Kids About Safety on Halloween
Any parent knows that being concerned about your child’s safety comes from a place of caring and love. We all want our kids to have fun and feel assured that they will be safe.
“The goal is to have a positive conversation where they’re engaged, and one way to do that is to get their opinions on real life scenarios,” explained Cathy. For example, can they see well in a dark room? What helps them see better? A flashlight? Glow sticks? Now we can take this same scenario and apply it to walking at night trick-or-treating and what cars can and cannot see. Helping our kids understand the WHY behind our safety concerns is a great way to stay in the conversation zone versus the lecture zone.
For a holiday like Halloween, it’s important to establish clear, tactical safety guidelines—the basic rules that will help keep them safe whether they’re trick-or-treating on their own or with an adult.
Cathy said that trust is the first thing that parents should establish to have a positive, open line of conversation, even outside of the Halloween season. “It starts when children are young, and it’s important even into adulthood. Children need to feel safe sharing the good, the bad, and the ugly without punishment.”
Cathy suggests if kids will be out after dark, to add reflective tape to their costumes or glow sticks.
“With daylight savings approaching, it’s getting darker earlier,” said Cathy. “For younger children that might be walking to a house party or trick-or-treating in the dark, shoe lights make a perfect addition to any Halloween costume for extra safety.”
Around this time of year, there’s a lot of fear regarding strangers tampering with Halloween candy, but if you look into these cases, for the most part, they are myths. However, that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t review the candy we let our kids eat.
Allergens are still a big concern, as are choking hazards. Watch out for hard candies such as Skittles, M&M’s, or lollipops. Similarly, soft candies like bubblegum, taffy and marshmallows also present a choking hazard for the little ones. You also want to check candies for their overall condition, since we don’t know where they were stored or for how long.
“Try the costumes on beforehand to double-check that they can see and hear in them,” said Cathy. “Make sure that your children are careful with the wires from the decorations that can lead to trips and falls.”
Many children also dress up in the same costumes on Halloween—and many include masks that cover their entire face, so it’s easier than you think for kids to get mixed up or lost in bigger groups of friends. Have a plan for sticking together, make sure they have a “buddy,” or designate a checkpoint if you get lost. Consider adding something to your child’s costume that makes them easier to stand out for you—for example, a wand, a crown, or even a stuffed animal.
“Be mindful of allergies, not only with food but also with face paint and wigs. It might be worth spot-testing to check for any reactions, and opt for nontoxic formulas before committing to a whole night of wearing.”
With so many kids out and about, don’t forget the general road safety rules, like not crossing between parked cars, and staying on sidewalks versus in the streets. When crossing the street, also make sure to walk and not run. And of course, for little ones, make sure to hold their hands when crossing the street!
“In addition, you should also align on a curfew and a route that you’re okay with your children going on,” said Cathy.
For parents and teens, it’s important to be aware of your surroundings and realize that your phones can cause distractions. If you need to check your phone, stop at a safe spot to do so.
While trick-or-treating is an exciting night full of fun, when out and about, stick to your neighborhood, as opposed to exploring a new area. Make sure never to go inside anyone’s house, and make sure to stick with your group.
While it’s an “unofficial” Halloween rule, it is considered best to only trick-or-treat at homes with the porch light on, or if the home is decorated. These are usually the universal signs that the homeowner is ready to hand out treats, but remember to stay at the door. If you don’t want visitors on Halloween, the rule is lights out!
Dress and Pack Accordingly for Trick-or-Treating
Cathy said not to forget about the extras you’ll need while trick-or-treating. If you’re planning to walk a lot and you’re not in your neighborhood, remember a bottle of water, a mini first aid kit, any medications your child may need, hand sanitizer, maybe some bobby pins in case there’s a costume emergency, and even consider carrying a change of clothing for your child. Keep in mind that the later it gets, the cooler it will get. Perhaps carry an extra layer of clothing, and if your child will have on specific shoes for their costume, pack a pair of comfortable sneakers for them in case they want to change at the end of the night.
Tech Options to Keep Track of Your Kids’ Location
If your kids aren’t going to be with you for the night of Halloween, you can always consider using location tracking on your child’s phone. This is a great way to stay on top of their location and know where they’re headed next.
For younger children who may not have a smartphone, Cathy said to consider a smart watch that allows location tracking, calling, and texting with selected family members. There are also other “hacks,” like putting a location tracker on your child, but it doesn’t allow for two-way communication.
Social Media Safety Tips for Parents and Teens
You can empower your children with a new life skill if you focus on helping them understand what is safe and dangerous to post on social media—and WHY. Here are some safety tips to consider when it comes to social media:
- Never share a home address
- Instead of taking pictures in front of your house, maybe do so in front of trees in the backyard
- Avoid posting on social media where you are until after you’ve left that area
- Enable security settings such as two-factor authentication
Have Fun While Learning Some Practical Life Skills
Halloween is a wonderful opportunity for children to have some plain old fun. Getting dressed up, hanging out with friends, and eating candy all night can create some wonderful, happy memories that will last a lifetime. However, safety always comes first. While it’s impossible to be 100 percent protected against every unsafe scenario, it is possible to be prepared for many of them. Cathy suggested using Halloween as an opportunity to help your children learn and practice life skills that will keep them safe—from communicating about their location to driving safely—not just this Halloween, but for the rest of their lives.