With some planning and common sense, Halloween can be fun – and safe – for children of all ages!

For sheer fun, Halloween has developed into one of the most celebrated and anticipated days of the year.  As fall brings cooler temperatures to most of the nation, Halloween is seen by many as the kick-off of the season and allows kids to become, at least for one night,  their favorite characters as they happily engage in that ages-old exercise of trick-or-treating.

But Halloween can be a nervous occasion for some parents concerned about trick-or-treating safety.  Statistically, trick-or-treating is a fun and usually safe activity.  According the U.S. Census Bureau, over 36.1 million children ages 5-13 don their favorite costumes and engage in their quest for sweets and treats of all kinds.  But like any activity, planning ahead can make a big difference when it comes to safety.

Here are some “safe scaring” Halloween safety tips for families from Saint Mary’s Regional Health System:

  • Be sure to test makeup on a small area of the body first to check for possible allergic reactions and remove before bedtime to help prevent skin and eye irritation.
  • Wear well-fitted masks, flame-resistant costumes and comfortable shoes to avoid slips, trips, and falls.  To avoid possible eye injury, don’t wear decorative contact lenses.  Avoid walking near candles or other flames.
  • Avoid trick-or-treating alone.  Walk in groups with a trusted adult.
  • Attach reflective tape to costumes and bags to help motorists see ghosts and goblins better.  If possible and age appropriate, each trick-or-treater should carry a flashlight for even better visibility.
  • Always walk when trick-or-treating; never run from house to house.
  • Always stop and look both ways before crossing any street.  Use crosswalks if possible.
  • Only use sidewalks, if available.  If sidewalks are not available, walk on the far edge of the road facing traffic. (Remember to bring those flashlights and wear that reflective tape!)
  • Never enter a stranger’s home unless a trusted adult is present.
  • Consume only factory-wrapped treats.  Avoid homemade treats unless they come from a trusted adult.
  • As a fun alternative to traditional trick-or-treating, consider community options such as those provided by municipalities, neighborhoods, civic organizations, and churches.

While candy is usually the top priority in the minds of young revelers, there are far healthier treats that can satisfy those sweet teeth, yet not pack so many calorie punches.  Try some of these suggestions for healthier treats: string cheese, sugar free gum, banana chips, pretzels, yogurt in a tube, sunflower seeds, almonds, honey sticks, apple chips, air popped popcorn, granola bars, low sugar fruit snacks, and even inedible yet useful “treats” such as pencils (unsharpened), erasers, stickers, crazy straws, temporary tattoos, silly bands,  or even bubbles!  According to Leigh Ann Veach, Clinical Dietitian at Saint Mary’s Regional Health System, “parents can also control how much candy their children consume by agreeing ahead of time how much candy can be consumed in a day.  Divide candy into a “favorites” and “not so favorites” when returning from trick or treating and then allow children to choose a few favorites to enjoy each day.  Remember that with moderation most treats, even candy, can fit into a healthful eating plan.