Halloween: Tricks to Stay Safe While Decorating, Trick-or-Treating, & More


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Sharon Gannon, BSN, RN

Halloween can be a night of great fun for children of all ages – but it’s also an important night for safety precautions.

According to the National Institutes of Health, children are four times more likely to be struck by cars on Halloween than on other nights.

In addition, the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) estimates that more than 3,000 Halloween-related injuries occur each year in the United States.

Of those injuries, 55% are related to pumpkin carving, 25% are related to falls, and 20% are related to lacerations, ingestions, or allergic reactions.

Please follow these Healthy Children.org recommendations for a safe Halloween.

Halloween costume safety tips

  • Wear costumes that are bright, reflective, and well-fitted. Consider adding reflective tape or striping to costumes or providing a flashlight.
  • Wear well-fitting shoes and make sure costumes aren’t a tripping hazard to prevent a fall, entanglement, or contact with a flame.
  • Look for “flame resistant” labels for costumes, wigs, and accessories.
  • Use non-toxic makeup. Test all makeup on a small patch of skin ahead of time to ensure there are no allergic reactions, rashes, or irritations.
  • Wear hats in place of wearing a mask. Hats and wigs should fit properly to prevent them from sliding down and obstructing vision.
  • Avoid sharp hazards such as swords, canes, sticks, or other hazardous costume accessories. These can cause accidental injuries to the child or others in the event of a trip or fall.
  • Avoid decorative contact lenses unless you consult with an eye care professional or pediatrician before use.
Three carved jack-o-lanterns with different faces.

Pumpkin carving and decorating tips

  • Never allow small children to carve a pumpkin. They can draw, color, or paint the pumpkin, or can mark the face for an adult to carve. Many children enjoy scooping out the pumpkin contents as well!
  • The American Society for Surgery of the Hand (ASSH) recommends adults use a small pumpkin saw using small strokes, directing the blade away from themselves and others. Avoid using larger knives.
  • Consider using a flashlight or glow stick to illuminate the pumpkin or other Halloween decorations.
  • Do not place candlelit pumpkins/decorations near pathways where visitors may pass close by. Never leave candles unattended.

Halloween safety tips for your home & yard

  • Remove tripping hazards from yards, pathways, and porches/hallways.
  • Make sure your outdoor lights are working and bright.
  • Remove wet leaves or yard debris from walkways, steps, and porches.
  • Restrain pets to avoid jumping or barking, which may frighten little ones or lead to an accidental bite.
A plastic jack-o-lantern pumpkin filled with candy sits atop a pile of additional candies.

Trick or Treating safety tips

  • Trick or treat as part of a large group with one or more responsible adults.  
  • Never enter a home or car for a treat.
  • Have children wait until they are home for treats, as eating while walking/running poses a choking hazard. In addition, children shouldn’t eat any treats until they can be checked by an adult.
  • Babies and toddlers should not have any hard candies, caramel apples, popcorn, gum, small candies (jelly beans, etc.), gummy candy, pumpkin seeds, or anything with whole nuts.
  • Candy wrappers, stickers, small toys, or temporary tattoos can be choking hazards.

Pedestrian safety tips for Halloween

Pedestrian injury is the most common injury to children on Halloween. Reduce the likelihood of accident by following the tips below.

  • Travel in a group and communicate where you are going. Stay with an adult.
  • Use reflective tape and lights to help increase visibility for vehicles.
  • Stay in well-lit areas – use sidewalks. Look both ways (left, right, left) before crossing a street. Cross at traffic lights and use the pedestrian button. Make sure all traffic is stopped before you cross.
  • If there is no sidewalk, walk at the far edge of the road facing traffic in a single line.
  • To prevent falls and other injuries, walk (don’t run) between houses. Never cut across yards or use alleys.
  • Only cross streets as a group in established crosswalks when directed by the adult. Never cross between parked cars or out of driveways.
  • Don’t assume the right of way. Motorists may have reduced visibility. Just because one car stops, another may not.
  • Carry a cell phone.

This blog was written by Sharon Gannon, RN, South Shore Health Trauma Program Injury Prevention Coordinator.

Learn more about our Injury Prevention Program.