Halloween is a magical time for little ghosts and goblins, but behind those smiling jack-o-lanterns, strobe lights and faux graveyards, the holiday comes with its share of dangers. While you don’t want to spook your child out of having fun, you do want to keep everyone safe on trick-or-treating night. Help your little ghouls have a safe and healthy Halloween with our tips for safe trick-or-treating in the city.
Choose a Safe Costume
It all starts with the costume. Your kiddo only cares about how cool the costume looks, but your concerns should go a little deeper. The fit and style of the costume is a major factor in how safe your child is while trick-or-treating. Your child should be easy to see, and the costume should let your little one move around easily without tripping or making it difficult to walk. You may have to get a little creative to ensure the costume is safe, but still, passes your child’s cool costume test.
Use these tips for choosing and modifying your child’s costume:
- Pick a properly sized costume that fits the body without being too baggy. Outfits that are too large increase the risk of tripping.
- Look for a flame-resistant costume to avoid burns if your child gets near a candle. Wigs should also be made of flame-resistant materials.
- Avoid long, draping costumes that may trip your child. Even if they don’t fall, they may have to keep adjusting the costume to move around easily.
- Choose a brightly colored costume to make your child easy to see. If your child insists on a dark costume, you can add light embellishments, glowing designs or reflectors for increased visibility.
- Paint your child’s face instead of wearing a mask, so that they can see well. Use non-toxic face paint to avoid any irritation or skin reactions.
- Test makeup on a small patch of skin before trick-or-treating to ensure your child doesn’t react to the cosmetics.
- Remove the makeup after your child is done trick-or-treating. If they go to bed wearing the makeup, it could irritate the skin or eyes.
- If your child wears a mask, make sure the eye holes are large so that they can see well. Consider cutting the eye holes larger if necessary to make it easier to see.
- Ensure hats or other props that go onto the had fit properly, so they don’t slide in front of the eyes or fly off your child’s head. Adding a strap or using bobby pins to secure the hat can help.
- Skip decorative, tinted contact lenses, as the lenses can cause damage or infections in the eye.
- Choose soft, flexible costume accessories that won’t get in the way or cause serious injury. Avoid long swords or other accessories that could cause your child to trip.
- Wear comfortable shoes that can handle all the walking, even if they aren’t a perfect match to the costume.
- Take a photo of your child or children before heading out. Not only is this a great memory to keep, it could be a life saver in the event of the unthinkable. Having that photo if your child gets separated and you cannot find him or her is essential.
Review Safety Rules
Whether your child is trick-or-treating with friends or sticking with you, it’s important to review safety rules before heading out for the night. It’s also important that your child knows what to do in the case of an emergency, such as getting injured or getting separated from the group.
Review the following safety guidelines with your kids before trick-or-treating:
- Never go inside a stranger’s home. Remind kids that while most people are well-intentioned, you should never enter someone’s home.
- Stay away from vehicles, particularly those who approach you and try to lure you into the vehicle.
- Stay in well-lit areas. Avoid areas without other people. It’s safer to stay in well-traveled areas where others can see you.
- Never enter an abandoned building or remote area.
- Only visit homes with lights turned on outside.
- Accept only treats wrapped in factory packaging. Never take homemade treats or even fresh fruit, as those items could be tampered with or contaminated.
- Call 911 in the case of an emergency. Remind your child only to call in the event of a real emergency.
- Stay where you are if you get separated or lost.
- Never accept rides from strangers.
- Avoid eating any candy until you get home and can inspect the goods.
It’s also a good idea to review your phone number and address. This information can come in handy if your child becomes lost or separated from your group.
Follow Set Times
Most cities and neighborhoods set specific hours for trick-or-treating. These hours typically start around 5 pm and continue for a few hours. Always stick to those designated hours for safety. If possible, head out as soon as trick-or-treating starts, so you can hit a large portion of the neighborhood before it gets dark. You can see potential hazards easier, and drivers are better able to see you in the daylight hours.
If your older child plans to go out with friends, review the neighborhood trick-or treating hours. Set a time for your child to be home to ensure safety and to prevent extra-long trick-or-treating sessions that go beyond the set hours. It’s also a good idea to set specific times for your child to check in throughout the night, either with a phone call or physically returning home at designated times.
Stick to Familiar Neighborhoods
You’ll keep yourself and your kids safer when you stick to your neighborhood or areas with which you are familiar. You are better able to stick to safe areas when you know the neighborhood well. Stay in well-lit areas with plenty of other people for increased safety. Always stay outside of the homes when collecting candy, especially if you don’t know the people who live there. Avoid going into strangers’ homes or taking short cuts through alleys or deserted areas, even in your neighborhood.
Plan your route before you go out to ensure you stay in safe areas. If you have older kids who are trick-or-treating on their own, go over their route with them, so you know where they will be. Stress the importance of sticking to that route and checking in with you frequently.
Trick-or-Treat With a Group
Staying with a group gives you safety in numbers. Young kids should always have adult supervision while trick-or-treating. Accompany your young child, or let him go with another trusted adult.
As your child gets older, he may want to trick-or-treat with friends. Safe Kids Worldwide recommends adult supervision for all kids under the age of 12. If you feel he is responsible enough to handle going without an adult, ensure that he goes with a large group of kids and stays with them. Find out whom he will be trick-or-treating with, so you feel comfortable with the situation.
Make Yourself Visible
Drivers should yield to pedestrians, but not all drivers are vigilant. It can be difficult for drivers to see people who are walking. Help the drivers in your city by making your group as visible as possible. Going out when it’s light is safest, but if you’ll be out after dark, improve your visibility with the following methods:
- Wear light-colored costumes and clothing.
- Add reflective tape to costumes, so cars can see you when their headlights shine on you.
- Carry a reflective bag, or add reflective tape to your candy bag.
- Wear glow bracelets and other glowing items.
- Carry a flashlight, so you can see the sidewalk and so that you are more visible. Bring along extra batteries in case your flashlight loses power.
Follow Traffic Safety Rules
Halloween is an exciting time, but it’s important to follow basic traffic safety rules to keep your party safe. Walk on the sidewalks as much as possible. In areas without sidewalks, stay to the side as much as possible, and walk facing traffic. If you do need to cross a street, wait until you reach a corner. Never cut out into the road between parked cars. Wait for a walk signal if the intersection has a traffic light. Always look both ways even if you have a walk signal, and make eye contact with drivers stopped at the intersection to ensure they see you.
Even when you stick to sidewalks, it’s important to watch for cars. Pay attention when walking across driveways or entrances to parking lots, as cars may not see you when entering or exiting.
Walking instead of running is also important. Running can increase the chances of tripping. Your child may get caught up in the excitement and run into the street. Set the pace for the kids, reminding them to stay with you at all times.
Putting away electronic devices is also part of pedestrian safety. If you’re looking at your phone, you aren’t paying attention to the traffic around you. Put your phone away, and require your kids to leave their electronics at home or keep them in a pocket while trick-or-treating.
Drive With Caution
If you get behind the wheel on trick-or-treat night, drive with extreme caution. Neighborhoods are full of kids who are out in search of candy. Drive slowly through all neighborhoods, particularly residential areas where there will likely be many kids. Stay alert to spot kids who may dart between cars or cross the road without waiting for walk signal.
Avoid distractions in your vehicle when you drive. Never use your phone while driving or sitting at intersections. Keep music quiet, and ask passengers to stay quiet and calm, so that you can focus on the road.
If you’re driving your kids around for trick-or-treating, ensure they stay buckled until you come to a complete stop. Park on the side of the road, so your child can get out onto the curb safely to avoid passing traffic.
Make Your Home Safe
If you plan to hand out treats to costumed kiddos in the neighborhood, ensure your home is as safe as possible. A few simple safety precautions keep everyone safe and help you avoid liability for potentially serious situations.
Follow these tips to make your home ready for trick-or-treaters:
- Use battery-operated lights or glow sticks to illuminate pumpkins on your front steps, so no one gets burned. Candles are dangerous, especially when placed near walkways, steps or doors.
- Replace burned out light bulbs in exterior fixtures to ensure your home is well-lit.
- Turn on all exterior lights to let people know you are passing out candy. The illumination also helps prevent trips and falls.
- Keep Halloween decorations away from walkways to prevent tripping.
- Put away hoses, toys, bikes and anything else that could become a tripping hazard.
- Secure your pets in the basement or a room away from the front door. Keeping your pet out of the way makes your visitors feel at ease and reduces the risk of your pet escaping through the open door.
- Clean wet leaves off the sidewalk to keep trick-or-treaters from slipping. Some years you may even need to shovel a little snow to keep your visitors safe.
Visit Trunk-or-Treat Events
Trunk-or-treat events create a safe environment where your child can trick-or-treat. Volunteers park their vehicles in a parking lot with the trunks open and decorated for the holiday. Kids walk from car to car to collect candy and other treats. You eliminate moving traffic and keep kids in a confined, safe area. These events are popular with churches and community organizations.
Know What to Look For at Home
No matter where you trick-or-treat, it’s important to look through your child’s candy stash as soon as you get home. Get rid of anything that isn’t wrapped in factory packaging. Even fresh fruit could have contaminants or bacteria that could make it unsafe.
Throw away any candy that shows evidence of tampering or otherwise looks suspicious. If you have a young child, pull out any candy that presents a choking hazard, such as jawbreakers and other hard candy.
Keep your child from feeling sick by limiting the number of sweet treats consumed. Part of the fun of trick-or-treating is enjoying the spoils, but too many sweet treats can leave your child with an upset stomach and an unbalanced diet. Ration the candy, giving your child only a few pieces of candy a day. Another option is to have your child pick out a small number of candies to keep. Donate or toss the rest.
How You Can Stay Safe in Chicago
Chicago offers a number of safe Halloween events throughout various neighborhoods. These events create the magical Halloween atmosphere while providing the safety of an organized community event. Navy Pier typically offers several Halloween activities in the days leading up to the holiday, including Halloween movie showings and trick-or-treating at the pier.
Lincoln Park Zoo is home to another popular and safe Halloween event called Spooky Zoo Spectacular. Despite its name, the event is very family friendly for kids of all ages. Go trick-or-treating, make crafts and participate in family activities while checking out some of the zoo animals.
Trick-or-treating night is an exciting time, and your kids want to get out the door as soon as possible to maximize their candy hauls. Take the stress off your plate by serving Giordano’s pizza for dinner. Stop at Giordano’s before or after trick-or-treating for a fresh, hot pizza. If you prefer to eat in the comfort of your own home after a long night of walking, pick up a Giordano’s pizza on the way home, or order a pizza for delivery. After walking up and down the neighborhood streets to ensure you kids’ bags are full of candy, you’ll appreciate the ease of a Giordano’s dinner.
Enjoy Your Trick-or-Treat Night, and Stay Safe
Be sure to stay safe during the Halloween season by following our simple suggestions. Though Trick-or-Treating is exciting, it also presents dangers that can be easily avoided.
Don’t forget to pick up Giordano’s for dinner so that your little trick-or-treaters can have the energy to collect all of their treats!