Coordinator, Family Safety Programs
Minnesota Safety Council
Make-believe ghosts and goblins aren’t the only scares preschoolers face when trick-or-treating. The leading injury risks for young children at Halloween time are pedestrian injuries, falls and burns. To help keep children safe, parents and kids should follow basic safety rules while trick-or-treating.
Children under age 12 should always be accompanied by a parent or older, responsible sibling while trick-or-treating. Young children are at special risk for pedestrian injury because they face traffic risks that exceed their developmental abilities, for example, the ability to accurately judge the speed and distance of oncoming traffic. Always hold the hand of a young child while walking and teach kids never to dart out into the street—one of the most common causes of pedestrian deaths among children.
Many parents and children are likely to be trick-or-treating while it is dark – making it harder for drivers to see them. And because children are excited about getting candy, they may not be watching out for cars. Parents and children should bring flashlights with them, carry reflective bags, or attach retro-reflective tape, fabric, or decorative patches to costumes.
Use face paint or cosmetics instead of a mask (look for non-toxic designations), and make costumes short enough to prevent tripping. If children do wear masks, cut the eye holes extra large. Instruct children not to cut across yards where tripping hazards may be hidden in the dark. Homeowners should sweep wet leaves away from sidewalks and steps and keep the house well-lighted.
Look for “flame resistant” labels on costumes and use fire resistant material to make costumes; avoid baggy sleeves and billowing skirts, which may be a hazard around candles. Keep candles, matches, lighters and jack-o-lanterns with candles out of children’s reach.
Only stop at well-lit houses or apartments, and teach children never to enter the homes of strangers. Check treats for signs of tampering before children are allowed to eat them. The liquid in glow sticks is also hazardous, so if children carry these, they should be reminded not to chew on or break them.
If you drive children for Halloween, secure them properly in the safety restraint that is right for their size: rear-facing seats for children until at least 1 year old and 20 pounds; forward-facing seats for children 1 to 4 years old; booster seats for children 4 to 8 years old; and seat belts for children 4-feet 9-inches or taller.
Drivers need to be extra alert on Halloween as there will be more children on the streets and sidewalks – and children may also be focused on gathering candy and the excitement of the holiday. Drivers must slow down and watch out for trick-or-treaters, especially around alleys, crosswalks and driveways.
Parents play a key role in helping your preschooler stay out of the emergency room on Halloween. By following basic safety rules while trick-or-treating, parents can help ensure young children have a fun and safe holiday.