Author: P. Christopher Guedri, Richmond, VA Personal Injury Attorney
Halloween is right around the corner, and many parents have already started preparing themselves and their children for the annual parade of costumes and candy. To ensure that both you and your children have a safe and happy Halloween, review the following safety tips provided by the American Academy of Pediatrics.
Because trick-or-treating usually happens at night, parents should find costumes for their children that are bright and reflective. Adding reflective striping to costumes or treat bags can help increase a child’s visibility, not only to other trick-or-treaters, but also to passing vehicles.
Though masks are often considered an integral part of many costumes, they can also block a child’s vision. Some safer alternatives to masks are non-toxic makeup and well-fitting decorative hats.
Costumes and their accessories (wigs, wings, etc.) should be flame resistant – avoid purchasing costumes and costume accessories that do not have a label that clearly indicates they are flame resistant. Other accessories, such as swords, canes, or sticks, should be dull and of an appropriate length for the child to avoid the risk of serious injury in the event he or she trips and falls.
One of Halloween’s most beloved traditions is pumpkin carving, and even this activity can be dangerous for small children. Small children should never carve pumpkins. Instead, they should draw the face on the pumpkin and let an adult do the cutting.
Once the pumpkin is carved, it should be lit with a flashlight or a glow stick instead of a candle. If you do light the pumpkin with a candle, a votive candle is the safest alternative. Any pumpkins lit with candles should be placed on sturdy tables and away from curtains and other flammable objects. Pumpkins lit with candles should never be left unattended.
Preparing for Visitors
In order to prepare for the stream of trick-or-treaters, parents need to make sure that their porches and front yards are free of tripping hazards, such as toys, bikes, and lawn decorations. Parents should also keep these areas well-lit. Finally, if there are any pets in the house, they should be restrained to avoid a situation where they jump on or bite a trick-or-treater.
If young children are going trick-or-treating, they should always be accompanied by a parent or other trusted adult. Older children might feel more comfortable going alone, but parents should help plan and review their route and set a specific time by which they should return home.
Children should only visit homes that have their porch light on, and should never, under any circumstance, enter a home or car for a treat. They should travel in groups and make sure that they communicate where they are going so that nobody gets left behind. The trick-or-treating path should follow well-lit streets and trick-or-treaters should always use the sidewalk. If no sidewalk is available, they should walk on the far edge of the road facing traffic.
If the group has to cross a street, it should do so at established crosswalks. Though pedestrians generally have the right of way, trick-or-treaters should not make the assumption that drivers will stop for them. Because it will be dark, groups should double check that the road is clear before crossing.
Finally, if there is any suspicious or unlawful activity, an adult should notify law enforcement authorities as soon as possible.
About The Author: Chris Guedri was named "Lawyer of the Year 2015" by Best Lawyers in America for Personal Injury-Plaintiffs in Richmond, VA. He has more than 30 years of experience and is a trial attorney and partner with the law firm of Allen, Allen, Allen & Allen.
 Halloween Safety Tips, American Academy of Pediatrics (2014), http://www.aap.org/en-us/about-the-aap/aap-press-room/news-features-and-safety-tips/Pages/Halloween-Safety-Tips.aspx