Tips for safe Halloween

  • Published
  • By Richard Fleming
  • AEDC Safety

What is Halloween anyway?

I know what we do on Halloween, but where did all these traditions come from?

The History Channel tells us Halloween has roots in the ancient Celtic festival of Samhain when people would light bonfires and wear costumes to ward off ghosts. In the eighth century, Pope Gregory III designated Nov. 1 as a time to honor all saints. Soon, All Saints Day began incorporating some of the traditions of Samhain. The evening before was known as All Hallows Eve, and later Halloween.

The observance came to American in the 1840s with Irish immigrants fleeing the potato famine. Borrowing from European traditions, Americans began to dress up in costumes and go house-to-house asking for food or money. Over time, Halloween evolved into a day of activities like trick-or-treating, carving jack-o-lanterns, attending festive gatherings, donning costumes and eating treats, a practice that eventually became today’s “trick-or-treat” tradition.

In the late 1800s, there was a move in America to mold Halloween into a holiday more about community and neighborly get-togethers than about ghosts, pranks and witchcraft. At the turn of the century, Halloween parties for both children and adults became the most common way to celebrate the day. Parties focused on games, foods of the season and festive costumes.

Some people get very into preparing for Halloween. They decorate their homes and workplaces extravagantly and choose costumes months in advance, with some even coordinating themes with family, friends or coworkers. Some will even dress their pets in costume.

Safety is probably not the first thing you think about when it comes to Halloween, but maybe it should be. The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission estimates an average of 3,200 Halloween-related injuries happen every year.

Here are how the most common injuries break down:

  • 55% are related to pumpkin carving.
  • If children want to participate in the process, let them scoop out the insides or draw the face instead of letting them handle sharp tools.
  • 25% are due to falls while working with decorations, tripping on costumes and walking while trick-or-treating.
  • Keep this in mind when decorating and choosing costumes.
  • 20% are miscellaneous situations like lacerations, ingestions and other injuries related to costumes, pumpkins, decorations, allergic reactions and rashes.

To help ensure you have a safe holiday, the Food and Drug Administration has compiled a list of Halloween safety tips which can be found at

Costume Safety

  • All costumes, wigs and accessories should be fire-resistant.
  • After dark, fasten reflective tape to children’s costumes and bags, or give them glow sticks or flashlights.
  • Choose nontoxic Halloween makeup instead of masks. Masks can obscure vision.
  • Remove all makeup before children go to bed.
  • All costumes should fit properly. Avoid those that are too long or baggy.


  • Use battery-operated lights or glow sticks to prevent fires.
  • Pay attention to the placement of decorations.
  • Remove obstacles from lawns, steps and porches if you’re expecting trick-or-treaters.
  • Use caution on ladders when putting up or taking down decorations.
  • Always check lights for broken or cracked sockets, frayed or barbed wires or loose connections. Ensure that damaged lights are properly disposed of.

Safety Tips for Motorists

The National Safety Council offers these additional safety tips for parents and anyone else who plans to be on the road during trick-or-treat hours:

  • Watch for children walking on roadways, medians and curbs.
  • Enter and exit driveways and alleys carefully.
  • At twilight and later in the evening, watch for children in dark clothing.
  • Discourage new, inexperienced drivers from driving on Halloween.

So, as you make your Halloween plans, keep safety in mind. Choose costumes that fit and are fire safe, pick decorations that are risk-free, and be extra careful if driving.

Here’s a scary statistic: Children are more than twice as likely to be hit by a car and killed on Halloween than on any other day of the year.

Take care of each other.