Halloween Safety Tips for Michigan Families

October 30, 2001

Michigan Department of Community Health Director, James K. Haveman, Jr., today offered parents simple tips from the Food and Drug Administration, SafeUSA and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to encourage safety this Halloween.

"Halloween is a time of fun for children," said Haveman. "These tips offer advice and information on the many things parents can do to ensure their child has a safe and enjoyable experience while trick-or-treating."

-- Children shouldn't snack while they're out trick-or-treating, before parents have a chance to inspect the goodies. To help prevent children from munching, give them a snack or light meal before they go--don't send them out on an empty stomach.

-- Tell children not to accept--and especially, not to eat--anything that isn't commercially wrapped.

-- When children bring their treats home, discard any homemade candy or baked goods. Parents of young children should also remove any choking hazards such as gum, peanuts, hard candies or small toys.

-- Inspect commercially wrapped treats for signs of tampering, such as an unusual appearance or discoloration, tiny pinholes, or tears in wrappers. Throw away anything that looks suspicious.

-- If juice or cider is served to children at Halloween parties, make sure it is pasteurized or otherwise treated to destroy harmful bacteria. Juice or cider that has not been treated will say so on the label.

Children should-

-- Go only to well-lit houses and remain on porches rather than entering houses.
-- Travel in small groups and be accompanied by an adult.
-- Know their phone number and carry coins for emergency telephone calls.
-- Have their names and addresses attached to their costumes.
-- Bring treats home before eating them so parents can inspect them.
-- Use costume knives and swords that are flexible, not rigid or sharp.

When walking in neighborhoods, children should-

-- Use flashlights, stay on sidewalks, and avoid crossing yards.
-- Cross streets at the corner, use crosswalks (where they exist), and do not cross between parked cars.
-- Stop at all corners and stay together in a group before crossing.
-- Wear clothing that is bright, reflective, and flame retardant.
-- Consider using face paint instead of masks. (Masks can obstruct a child's vision.)
-- Avoid wearing hats that will slide over their eyes.
-- Avoid wearing long, baggy, or loose costumes or oversized shoes (to prevent tripping).
-- Be reminded to look left, right, and left again before crossing the street.

Parents and adults should-

-- Supervise the outing for children under age 12.
-- Establish a curfew (a return time) for older children.
-- Prepare homes for trick-or-treaters by clearing porches, lawns, and sidewalks and by placing jack-o-lanterns away from doorways and landings.
-- Avoid giving choking hazards such as gum, peanuts, hard candies, or small toys as treats to young children.
-- Inspect all candy for safety before children eat it.

Parents and adults should ensure the safety of pedestrian trick-or-treaters-

-- Make sure children are supervised as they cross the street.
-- Drive slowly.
-- Watch for children in the street and on medians.
-- Exit driveways and alleyways carefully.
-- Have children get out of cars on the curb side, not on the traffic side.

"By using caution and common sense, we can make this a safe and enjoyable Halloween for children," said Haveman.