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It’s the time of year when costumes are everywhere, candy and other treats flow like water, and spirits abound. Halloween is a fun time for most, but there are some things you should do to help keep everyone safe.

Plan ahead. Figure out how far your kids want to go (and what’s realistic). Choose a route that minimizes the number of times they’ll have to cross the street, try to stick with well-lit areas, and steer them away from the busiest roads.

Set rules for candy collection. Some kids will travel far and wide for candy but set some strict ground rules. The two biggest: 1. Only go to homes that have a porch light on. 2. Never enter a stranger’s house or vehicle. 

Light the way. Lighter colors are best when it comes to trick or treat safety, but no matter what color the costume is, find areas to place plenty of reflective tape or stickers. Also, carry glow sticks or flashlights so they can see where they’re going—and so other people can see them, too. 

Watch the length, width, and size. A costume that worked for a Halloween party at school may not be entirely safe for trick or treating. Costumes should fit well and not be too long or too wide. You want your child to be comfortable and not pulling at an ill-fitting costume all night. Also, if the outfit is too long, they run the risk of tripping or brushing up against a lit jack-o-lantern on a porch step.

No decorative contact lenses. Companies make some pretty cool designer contact lenses for costumes, but they’re not safe if they don’t require a prescription. Most are not FDA-approved and can seriously damage your child’s eyes (or yours, if you’re also dressing up!). 

Skip the masks, use makeup. Traditionally, masks have been integral parts of successful Halloween costumes. Unfortunately, they’re just not safe for going out to trick or treat. A mask can make it difficult for your child to see or even breathe properly. Instead of a mask, opt for some cool face makeup. Test the makeup before Halloween, though, to ensure your child isn’t sensitive to the ingredients. If you’re not theatrically-inclined when it comes to that stuff, many area salons have staff who love doing Halloween makeup—and will do it for a reasonable price. 

Adult supervision. Safe Kids Worldwide recommends that if a child is under the age of 12, they shouldn’t trick or treat without parental supervision. Once they’re old enough to be out alone, make sure they’re traveling in a group of kids in familiar, well-lit areas. 

Stay connected. If your child does go trick or treating on their own and they don’t have a cell phone, consider lending them one so you can both reach each other easily. Depending on the phone, you may also be able to track their location to make sure they’re following the route you two established earlier. 

Enforce a curfew. Some younger kids will tucker out pretty quickly, but if you have a child going out with a group of friends, make sure they know exactly when they need to be home. Also, make sure that all public trick or treating is done within your town or city’s designated times. 

No candy before home. It’s not uncommon for kids to eat some of their candy before they get home, but it really isn’t smart when it comes to trick or treat safety. Tampering is rare—but it has happened so check all of your son or daughter’s candy when the night is over. Look for unwrapped or homemade items, treats that look strange or discolored, or tiny holes/tears in wrappers. 

Limit accessories. Certain accessories can “make” a costume—like a sword for a pirate, for example—but they’re not always a good idea for trick or treating. Accessories can not only be distractions but hurt your child or others. If your little ghoul won’t give up on the prop, choose something that’s short, flexible, and soft. 

Prep for trick or treaters. If you or someone from your family will be handing out treats at your house, create a safe space for kids to visit. Clear any walkways, put away lawn equipment or toys, don’t put anything on your front steps (especially candles or open flames), and make sure your front porch light is bright and on. 

Have a Plan B. It’s unlikely that you and your child will get separated, but crazier things have happened. Pin a piece of paper with your child’s name, address, and phone number in their pocket just in case you lose each other. You should also make a plan with your child for what to do if you do get separated. 

Stay on sidewalks. Only walk on sidewalks. If you don’t have sidewalks in your neighborhood, stay as close to the curb as possible and walk facing traffic. Also, use crosswalks whenever possible. 

Look for other kids, too. If you are driving on Halloween night, take extra care while operating your vehicle. Drive below the speed limit in residential areas, eliminate any distractions (including the radio), and keep a close eye out for kids darting across the road.

Even if parents are vigilant about safety, accidents can still happen on Halloween. Will your homeowner’s insurance protect you if a trick or treater is injured on your property? Call us today to learn more about your liability as a homeowner.