From Children's Healthcare of Atlanta:
Halloween is one of the most exciting holidays for children because they can dress up in elaborate costumes and act out of character. However, as the sun goes down and trick-or-treaters start roaming the streets of your neighborhood, there are several things to worry about as a parent or guardian. Potentially hazardous costumes or accessories, tainted candy and crossing the street at night without supervision are only a few concerns that should be addressed prior to a child leaving the house.
[PDF: Halloween safety checklist]
Children ages 5-14 are four times more likely to be killed while walking on Halloween evening compared with other evenings of the year. Falls are the leading cause of injuries among children on Halloween. Halloween is a fun time for children, but it also is an important time to be extra vigilant for possible safety hazards—so that your children have a fun and safe Halloween.
- Avoid costumes with excessive flowing fabric, such as capes or sleeves. Loose clothing can easily brush up against a jack-o-lantern or other open flame, causing your child's costume to catch on fire.
- Make sure your child's costume fits properly. Oversized costumes and footwear, such as clown or adult shoes, can cause your child to trip and fall, bringing them home with more scrapes and bruises than candy. Avoid wearing hats that will slide over their eyes.
- Accessorize with flexible props, such as rubber swords or knives. Inflexible props can cause serious injury in case of a fall.
- Apply face paint or cosmetics directly to the face, and make sure it is non-toxic and hypoallergenic. A loose-fitting mask can obstruct a child's vision. If a mask is worn, be certain it fits securely. Cut the eyeholes large enough for full vision.
- If possible, choose a brightly colored costume that drivers can spot easily. If not, decorate his costume with reflective tape and stickers.
- Always supervise children under the age of 13. Older children should trick-or-treat in a group, and a curfew should be established for them. Attach the name, address and phone number (including area code) of children under age 13 to their clothes in case they get separated from adults. Have each child carry a cell phone or some loose change in case they need to call home or get lost.
- Children should only go to well-lit houses and remain on the porch within street view. Teach your child to cross the street only at crosswalks or intersections. Make sure he understands never to cross between parked cars and to always look both ways before crossing. Remind your child to stay on the sidewalk, if possible, and to walk facing traffic. Children should walk, not run, and avoid using shortcuts across backyards or alleys. Use flashlights when trick-or-treating in the dark.
- Remind your child not to eat any treats before you have a chance to examine them thoroughly for holes and punctures. Throw away all treats that are homemade or unwrapped. To help prevent your children from munching, give them a snack or light meal before they go trick-or-treating.
- Parents of food-allergic children must read every candy label in their child's Halloween bag to avoid a potentially life-threatening situation for the child.