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Trick or Treat! 5 Savvy Safety Tips for Halloween

Happy Halloween!

The holiday, for those who celebrate, is almost here, and it’s looking like it will be a more “normal” year than last. My kids are gearing up, ready to don their costumes, and are excited for some good old regular fun. And I’m excited to see all the littles come to our door with their costumes, and hear their expectant, hopeful “trick or treats.”

I love Halloween because for us, there’s very little pomp and circumstance, no big meal to cook, and no gifts to buy…just silly, spooky fun.

But with fun, there are always some safety considerations, so here are Savvy’s top 5 Halloween tips:

Halloween1. Make a plan!

Talk about safety before everyone heads out. This includes setting rules, and expectations, and, if they’re heading out alone, establishing a rough map and itinerary. If your kids are under about age 12 (I trust your parental judgment here), they should be supervised. Over age 12, it may be fun to let them have some fun and experience some independence as they manage themselves. Be clear on your expectations, schedule a “home by” time, and let them head out. Remind older kids of the importance of being respectful of the little ones, taking only their fair share of candy, respecting people’s property, and HAVING FUN!

[Side note: if you are one of the folks that get grumpy about tweens and teens trick-or-treating, consider changing your perspective. Childhood goes by so damn fast—why not let them enjoy it just a little longer? After the 18 months we’ve all just had, couldn’t we all use a little more childhood joy? Besides, they’re asking for some candy, not your firstborn child. 😉]

2. Safety Matters

In many neighborhoods, it can get quite busy on Halloween. Time will tell what this year will look like, but there is typically both increased foot traffic and car traffic on the big night. This means making sure that kids are visible to cars. It’s pretty easy to add some reflective tape to their costumes in a few key places or carry some glow sticks—that little bit of visibility can make all the difference with a driver seeing your little Tinkerbell or pirate. Similarly, make sure to discuss stopping at intersections, crossing streets carefully, and looking out for cars backing out of their driveways. Kids get so excited, they’re likely to run down the street without some discussion and setting clear expectations. Even in the most suburban of neighborhoods, safety around cars is key on Halloween.

3. Covid Caution

While Halloween will likely be much more “normal” this year, there are still some precautions recommended by the Centers for Disease Control to keep everyone safe and our Covid numbers dropping. First, mask up—there are some really cute Halloween masks out there, so grab your favorite. And while costume masks aren’t sufficient, what better year than to pick a costume to which a mask can be easily incorporated. Second, pack along some hand sanitizer for all those hands dipping into bowls for candy. Such an easy way to help stop the spread.

4. Stranger Danger

For any of you that have heard me talk about safety before, you know that stranger danger is not a thing. It just isn’t. Children are exponentially more likely to be abused by someone they know. So, while teaching basic safety (don’t approach strange cars, go into anyone’s home on Halloween, or get into the car with anyone without checking with your safe adult first) is important, let’s NOT make our kids afraid of every stranger they encounter. After all, isn’t Halloween all about asking strangers for candy? Not to mention the fact that a stranger may just be the one there to help them if they fall, get lost, or feel scared. The reality is that Halloween is one of the safest days of the year, because it is historically low in crimes against children. For more on this, and why you should replace the term “stranger danger” with “tricky people” check out our resource page.

5. Check Your Child’s Candy

This is age-old advice and, as it turns out, a Halloween legend. While it’s wise to throw away any handmade treats as they may not have been made with top food-handling safety, history would suggest that your child’s commercial Halloween candy is safe to eat (aside from the gobs of sugar and other crap in there). In fact, the advice traces back to 1974 when some guy named Richard Turbo wrote in a PTA Magazine about candy bars and candy apples being filled with razor blades and needles. We were all told this grand story about a bunch of psychopaths trying to kill children on Halloween, and before we knew it, the legend stuck. In fact, I remember my dad carefully inspecting each piece of candy before I was allowed to eat it (he never found one that was unsafe, though I’m pretty sure he stole plenty of them under the guise of safety 😉). But Joel Best, a sociologist, professor, and the leading expert on this issue has reported that “I have been unable to find a substantiated report of a child being killed or seriously injured by a contaminated treat picked up in the course of trick-or-treating.”

The moral of the story? Let’s bring common sense back. Follow some basic safety rules (that apply on Halloween or any other day of the year), take some precautions because of Covid, and let the rest go. Halloween is for kids—let’s let them enjoy it!

Trick or Treat!

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Christy Keating fun headshot

Christy Keating is a certified parent coach,  positive discipline educator, and motivational speaker. She is the founder and CEO of The Heartful Parent Collective, which includes Heartful Parent Coaching, Savvy Parents Safe Kids, and Heartful Parent Academy.

The mother of two amazing daughters, Christy strives to build a happier, healthier world - one child, one parent, and one family at a time.