Tips to keep Halloween safe and fun for everyone

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Halloween is a fun event that kids (young and old) look forward to every year. Around mid to the end of October, you’ll see a lot of Canadian homes with “scary” decorations. Many will also be thinking about the most creative costume they can wear to parties or for trick-or-treating on the 31st. Newcomers will find that it’s a great occasion to meet neighbours and join in on good, harmless fun.

Halloween costumes

Are you a newcomer parent buying a Halloween costume for your kid for the first time? There are so many choices and you’ll have a lot of fun picking (don’t forget to ask your child what they might like)! You can buy from places like Superstore, Costco, or the seasonal Spirit Halloween, and similar stores all over the city.

It’s important to keep in mind that it’s likely that your child will use the costume only once. It’s either they’ll grow out of it or their interest will change next year. Practical parents can go to second-hand or thrift stores like Value Village, Goodwill, Plato’s Closet or Salvation Army for cheaper choices. Better yet, if you’re the creative type, make the costume with your child. There’s nothing more unique than a home-made costume.

Keep these safety tips in mind when choosing or making the costumes:

  1. Mask up – Full masks and face coverings can make it hard for your kid to see while walking around trick-or-treating. Ensure that eye-holes are adequate or opt for a mask that doesn’t cover the eyes.
  2. Use safe materials – If you’re using face paint, make sure it’s safe and hypoallergenic. Wash it off of your child completely before they go to bed. Don’t use materials like strong glue, large pieces of glitter or glass shards, especially on skin. Check if wigs, beards, wings and tails are flame-retardant (read the package).
  3. Check for potential hazards – Scarves, strings and ribbons can be choking hazards for the little ones. Look for velcro-fastened costumes instead. Also, long flowing gowns or heels on little witches or princesses can trip them when walking around the neighbourhood. See if they can walk properly before leaving the house (or opt for flat, comfortable shoes).
  4. No culturally insensitive costumes please! This means no ceremonial headdresses, blackface, or similar themes.
  5. Stay warm – October evenings are usually chilly so make sure that your kid is warm enough to stay outside for some time.
  6. Make them shine – Brightly coloured costumes are great. This makes your child visible, especially to motorists. You can also stick reflective tape strips on the front and back of costumes to add visibility. You can buy this kind of tape at any hardware store.

Lighting and decorations

  1. Make your yard safe – Clear out your yard and the path going to your door. Sweep away debris or leaves to make it safe for trick-or-treaters. Secure heavy décor so that they won’t fall on people (it can be windy this time of year!).
  2. Don’t use candles and flammable materials – Use battery-operated or LED lights for your Jack-o-lanterns, monsters and other lighted decorations for your indoor and outdoor displays.
  3. Turn your porch light on– Illuminate the path with bright lights to help trick-or-treaters get to your door safely.

Trick-or-treating

If your kids are going around the neighbourhood, ensure their safety by following these tips:

  1. Young kids need adult supervision – Kids below 12 years old must be accompanied by an adult when going around the neighbourhood. Expert parent tip: Feed your little tykes supper before going out trick-or-treating. They will have the energy to walk around and won’t be tempted to eat the candy right away. This way you’ll have the chance to inspect their loot first for hazards.
  2. Set some rules – Plan your route before setting out (and check the weather!). Go into familiar neighbourhoods as a group and establish some ground rules like no running, criss-crossing the streets or straying away from the group. Also, remind the kids to be polite. No grabbing someone else’s candy and to always say “thank you!” when given treats.
  3. Bring a flashlight and extra bags to hold candy.
  4. Go only to houses that have a porch light on. Tell your kids to stay on the porch and never go inside a stranger’s house.
  5. Check their loot first before they open and eat the candy or use toys. See if the packages are sealed and untampered. Throw away suspicious-looking candy and loose gummies, candy corn or other food that are not wrapped. Make sure that they brush their teeth before going to bed.

Have a fun and safe Halloween!
 
Article updated September 28, 2023.
 
Sources: Halloween safety: Tips for families, Caring for Kids and 15 trick-or-treating safety tips to ensure a happy and healthy Halloween, Joelene Huber, Today’s Parent. Accessed October 18, 2019.

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