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Ensuring a Safe and Fun Halloween

Halloween cartoon with a pumpkin, haunted house and moon

Fall is in the air, which means that Halloween is just around the corner. This celebration of spooks and hallows is a favorite of all ages. Here are a few things for parents to keep in mind to make sure your family’s holiday is as fun and safe as possible.

Dress (and accessorize) for Success

Planning a costume is often the most exciting part for children and adults alike. However, it’s important to make sure your costume is not a hazard

  • Plan to wear colors that are bright and reflective or add some reflective tape to ensure the costume can be easily seen at night
  • Use face paint rather than a mask when possible to improve the wearer’s ability to see
  • Make sure accessories like swords and canes aren’t overly sharp or tripping hazards
  • Ensure at least one member of the group has a flashlight with fresh batteries

Cutting Up

Carving a jack-o-lantern is a time-honored tradition, but one wrong move can turn a fun family activity into a trip to the E.R.

  • Encourage younger children to outline their pumpkin’s face or color it in with markers and leave the carving to adults. A trip to the E.R. for stitches is at the top of no one’s fun list
  • Consider using a flashlight or glow stick to light up your creation to avoid an unnecessary fire hazard

Out on the Prowl

Once the day has finally arrived, make sure to stay safe while out and about. Pedestrian injuries most commonly occur on Halloween.

  • An adult should always accompany younger children while making the trick-or-treating rounds
  • In advance of trick-or-treat night, discuss your route and return time with older children who are going out alone —and then stalk their cell phone
  • Accept treats from the porch only! Do not enter a home and avoid homes that don’t have their porch light on
  • Make sure to walk safely by staying in groups, walking on sidewalks or at the far edge of the road facing traffic and using crosswalks. Never assume cars can see you, especially if night has fallen

Spread Fun, Not Germs

Unfortunately, Halloween falls right at the same time as our busy cold and flu season, not to mention that COVID is still hanging around. Boo!

  • If you or your child are under the weather on October 31st, skip the trick-or-treating. Instead, consider making arrangements with some of your neighbors for your child to stop by for some make-up trick-or-treating at another time. Alternatively, you can put on a fun Halloween movie and make it a couch party by snagging some treats from the candy bucket

To prevent getting sick while out and about, remember to wash your hands before eating and avoid touching your face with dirty hands.

Staying Safe at Home

Most families leave at least one person at home for the trick-or-treaters who will come your way. Here are some tips to keep your house from getting toilet-papered by unhappy visitors!

  • Remove trip hazards from the front yard, porch and sidewalks, such as hoses and bicycles
  • Make sure driveways and porches are well-lit
  • Restrain pets so they don’t frighten or harm trick-or-treaters coming to the door

Enjoying Your Loot

Depending on their route, trick-or-treaters may come back with enough candy to last them for months. Keep the following in mind to avoid tummy aches and cavities!

  • Kids should wait until they get back home to eat any goodies, allowing an adult to check the treats, ensuring nothing looks spoiled or suspicious
  • Rather than gorging at one sitting, try to spread out the fun and eat small amounts of candy in the days following Halloween
  • Be sure to brush twice daily, particularly after eating sticky treats like taffy, candied apples and gummy bears
  • Consider doing a treat exchange. After letting a child enjoy some of their treats, offer to exchange the rest for a book, toy or game they’ve been wanting. The candy stash at work can always use a refill, and you’ll spend less on dental bills

Halloween is an exciting time for the whole family. Hopefully, the above tips will allow your household to have an especially fun and safe holiday this year!

About the Author

Dr. Diane Howell, MD was born and raised just south of Gainesville in Ocala, Florida. She then made the short move to Gainesville to attend both college and medical school at the University of Florida. She then moved to North Carolina with her husband to complete her residency and chief resident year at UNC Chapel Hill. After living in North Carolina for a few more years, they have made their way back home along with their two children. She enjoys watching Gator football, serving in her church and spending time with her family.

About the author

UF Health
UF Health

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