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Articles and Updates from Phoenix Children's

October 02, 2023, Pepka, Lisa, MD ,
Tips for a Safer, Healthier Halloween
Tips for a Safer, Healthier Halloween

Halloween is just around the corner, and kids everywhere are getting ready for haunted houses, costume creations and tasty treats. Halloween can be a fun and exciting holiday and with a bit of planning and preparation, you and your family can enjoy the spooky season safely. We’ve shared these tips to help you keep your family safe and healthy.

Practice pumpkin safety

  • Pumpkin patches are overflowing with gourds of all sizes just waiting to become jack o’lanterns. Whether you’re planning an elaborate Halloween scene or keeping it simple, carving a pumpkin should always be done by an adult. Let the kids draw the design, then (carefully) carve it for them.
  • Instead of wax candles, which are a fire hazard (especially when left unattended), use battery-operated votive candles to light up your creation.   
  • Pumpkin seeds are a tasty and nutritious treat. You can make cleaning and baking them part of your pumpkin-carving routine.

Avoid scary costume mistakes

  • Scary or sweet, store-bought or homemade, your child’s costume should fit well, allow them to walk and move around easily, and be free of potential trip hazards like long skirts, pants or capes. Shoes, too, should feel stable and comfortable while walking.
  • Dressing up your toddler is great fun but check for loose buttons or small pieces that can come off and potentially pose a choking hazard. 
  • Make sure wigs, hats, hoods, bandannas and other head or face coverings do not interfere with your child’s vision or hearing. Ensure that all accessories are marked “flame resistant” on the label.
  • Avoid hazardous accessories such as sharp swords or breakable “lasers.”
  • Colorful makeup can be the perfect finishing touch for a costume and a fun way for you and your child to create a unique look. However, toxic ingredients have been found in some cosmetics marketed to kids, and even “natural” ingredients may cause an allergic reaction on sensitive skin. Do a test on a small patch test on your child’s skin well before Halloween to check for reactions, and thoroughly remove makeup when the day is over.
  • Never use decorative contact lenses for yourself or your children without an eye examination and prescription from an eye care professional. Without a proper exam and prescription, decorative contact lenses are illegal and, more importantly, potentially dangerous – they can cause pain, inflammation and severe infections that may result in permanent vision loss.

Be street smart

  • If your child is trick-or-treating after sunset, light up the night. Add reflective or glow-in-the-dark tape to costumes and bags and bring a lightweight flashlight for added safety.
  • Always accompany younger children along the entire route. Get in on the fun by dressing up with the kids. Join up with another family and go out as a group or arrange with other parents to trade off supervision at certain points along the route.
  • If your older children are trick-or-treating without an adult, map out the route with them before they leave and set a time for them to return home. Have them bring their mobile phones to stay in touch.
  • Only visit homes where a porch light is on and the walkway is clearly lit, and to never enter an unknown home or yard or approach a car for a treat.
  • Prior to going out, it is a good idea to remind children of all ages to never leave you or their group to go anywhere with a stranger.   
  • Remind kids to stay on sidewalks and designated walking paths, and cross streets only at crosswalks. Don’t assume a driver will see you and stop; make eye contact with the driver before crossing and teach your child to do the same.
  • Make your own home a safe zone for trick-or-treaters. Be sure your porch and walkway are well lit and cleared of debris and potential trip hazards like flowerpots and lawn decorations.
  • If you have a dog, keep it away from the door when greeting trick or treaters. Even the friendliest dogs may react unpredictably to visitors in strange costumes. Your dog’s bark may literally be worse than their bite, but it can easily frighten young children.
Tips for a Safer, Healthier Halloween

Always check treats before eating

  • Make it a rule: No digging into the goodies until your child gets home. Spread out their stash and look for anything that is unwrapped, unfamiliar or questionable. If your child has a food allergy, read the label first. If you don’t recognize candy or it has a foreign label that you can’t read, toss it out.
  • Similarly, if your child received a homemade treat from someone who is not a family member or friend, it is best to throw it out.
  • Together with your child, set reasonable guidelines for candy consumption in the days following Halloween. Dr. Lisa Pepka with Phoenix Children’s Pediatrics suggests limiting candy treats to one to two bite-sized pieces in a day for most healthy children over the age of 2-3. Parents should always be mindful to pick candy that is age appropriate for their child and ensure it is not a choking risk. 
  • Some dental offices offer to “buy back” Halloween candy for cash or gift cards. Others collect and donate it to troops serving overseas.

Explore alternative celebrations

Trick-or-treating may be a tradition, but other types of Halloween celebrations are growing in popularity. Consider these options for fright-night family fun:

  • Host a party in your home or yard. Make it a potluck and ask guests to bring Halloween-themed snacks and drinks. Show an age-appropriate Halloween movie.
  • Get together with neighbors and create a Halloween Scavenger Hunt, followed by a costumed dinner party.
  • Trick or treat at local businesses. Shopping centers and business districts often have their own Halloween events with goodies for trick-or-treaters.

By following these helpful tips, you can help your family stay safe while having fun.

About Phoenix Children's Pediatrics

Phoenix Children’s Pediatrics provides children and adolescents with high-quality health care in a warm, welcoming and friendly environment. For your convenience, Phoenix Children’s Pediatrics has several locations to serve you and each office is specifically designed with children’s comfort in mind. You’ll find our pediatric offices in neighborhoods throughout Chandler, Gilbert, Phoenix, Tempe, Scottsdale and Cottonwood. Each location staffed with highly knowledgeable health care teams committed to delivering compassionate care for children. For more information and to find a location near you, visit

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