Kids are always excited for Halloween—sometimes for weeks before the big day.
The thought of our little ones running from door to door, crossing streets in traffic, and eating candy as they go is not as exciting for parents. There’s also the many days after Halloween when that bucket of candy becomes a daily battle over sugar intake.
Here are a few easy steps to help you figure out how to keep your children safe for Halloween.
Review Traffic Rules
It’s easy for kids of all ages to dash to the next house as fast as possible, to maximize the amount of goodies collected in an evening.
But if the next house is across the street, it’s important for your children to remember traffic safety rules:1
- Help your kids plan their route so these rules are easy for them to follow.
- Walk on the sidewalk.
- Cross at the corner, and use crosswalks or traffic signals when possible. Never cross between parked cars or in the middle of the street.
- Look both ways, make eye contact with the driver of a stopped car, and don’t check your phone while you’re walking.
- Join kids who are under 12, and you’ll enjoy the experience as much as them.
In fact, children under 12 should be accompanied by an adult, even if they’re in a group, and older kids should stay together for safety—and added fun!
Dress for Safety
This one is worth reviewing however many times you’ve heard it. The shorter days of October means your child will likely be out after dark, so help her or him choose a costume that’s safe.
That can be accomplished with light-colored material, but with any costume, some reflective tape or stickers will help your child be noticed in the dark. A flashlight is a good idea too. Makeup is always better than a mask to help your child see at night, and be sure the costume isn’t too big, so your child isn’t tripping on a loose outfit.1
Serve Supper First
The kids will be excited to eat all the candy as soon it drops into their goodie bags. To curb that urge, make sure they’re fed a healthy meal before they go out trick-or-treating. Having a healthy meal prior to heading out in their costumes will help reduce their temptation to snack while walking. That full tummy will go a long way to avoiding the urge to overindulge.2
It’s also worth reminding your children that it’s not a good idea to eat while they’re still collecting candy. You should check candy before your kids consume it, making sure it’s in the original wrapper, for instance.3
Be Mindful of Older Children Too
If you have teenagers, a Halloween party may be preferable to trick or treating. Make sure an adult is in attendance at the party, then talk to your kids about what to do if someone offers them alcohol or drugs, how to get home safely, and what time you expect them home.3
While it’s not a surprise that data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration warns of Halloween danger to pedestrians4, it’s worth remembering that it is also dangerous for motorists due to the number of drunk drivers on the road. You might want to prevent your teen from driving on Halloween.
If you’re driving, be extra cautious, going extra slow in residential neighborhoods, staying alert for kids and reducing distractions like looking at your phone.5
And if your teenager still wants to go door-to-door in their costume, don’t discourage her. Kids grow up fast enough, so let them be kids as long as they want.
Talk About Healthy Eating
With all that candy in the house, it’s an ideal time to talk about healthy eating topics like portion control, moderation, and making positive choices all year long.
There are resources to help too. For instance, the American Heart Association promotes the Eat Smart Month in November. It suggests you can use Halloween to talk with kids about moderation and making smart eating choices. Help your child plan how much candy they should eat at one time, or in a day, and what they can do with excess candy.6
The Association also has resources for planning family meals, dealing with picky eaters and more.7 Meal planning and enjoying meal time together is one aspect of creating a healthy routine for you and your family.
Look After Your Family
If you’re looking for more guidance on how to keep your children safe, including topics related to their health, use our Physician Finder to find a doctor near you for your family. A medical professional will help with advice about all your family health concerns.