Always check your children’s Halloween candy to see if it has been tampered with, right? Stories of poisoned Halloween candy being randomly handed out to kids have circulated in October for years. In 1982, after the Tylenol tampering scare, candy poisoning hysteria hit its peak. Some hospitals even offered to X-ray Halloween candy for free to check for anything unusual.
We heard those rumors in our own youth, and it’s something we look for in our children’s candy hauls. You never know if one of your neighbors has decided to play the cruelest trick of all on the treats they hand out…
…except these stories aren’t true! There has never been a police report of randomly distributed poisoned Halloween candy. Although there have unfortunately been cases of specifically targeted poisoned Halloween candy and cases of harm befalling children after they’ve eaten their Halloween treats, none of these support the rumors of a devious homeowner purposely passing out modified candy on Halloween night. (Read this Snopes article if you do want a couple of chilling examples of Halloween harm…)
So if you don’t need to worry about poison or razorblades, everything’s just fine for October 31st, right? Well, not quite. It’s still a night that requires a diligent eye on the part of the parent. Here are some other items you can check for on the spookiest of holidays…
In the bag
- Check nutrition labels on treats to make sure there are no ingredients that your child is allergic to.
- Check goody bags for anything that could be a choking hazard, like small toys, hard candy and even gum.
- Check to make sure your child isn’t hungry before venturing out on their candy hunt. They shouldn’t be eating any treats until they get back home so you can inspect them, and if they’re hungry, it will be harder for them to stay out of the candy.
On their costumes
- Check to make sure your child can move in their costume, be it stepping up and down stairs or just walking without tripping over fabric.
- Check to make sure you can see your child in the dark. Reflective strips can be attached to candy bags and their costume, or you can even find reflective costumes that look like any other normal costume—until the light shines on them, that is!
- Check to make sure any products going on the skin, like face paint or makeup, are non-toxic and test them on a small patch of skin first prior to Halloween. If non-toxic and your child’s skin doesn’t react to it, face paint or makeup is a safe alternative to a mask, which can slip down and obstruct your child’s vision.
Out on the streets
- Check for electronics. If a child is trick or treating without an adult, make sure they have a cell phone to use in case of an emergency. But along with the responsibility of having the phone is making sure they know to look up and pay attention to their surroundings while they’re walking. Have that talk!
- Check both ways before crossing the street. Children are twice as likely to get hit by a car on Halloween night than on any other night. This caution goes for adults that are driving as well: Be extra cautious and on the lookout for any child darting out from behind a parked car. (And see the point above about kids looking down at cell phone screens—they can be oblivious!)
Back at home
- Check your outside lighting, making sure your front porch is well lit as well as your yard and walkway.
- Check your inside lighting. Indoor lights can make your home look more inviting for trick-or-treaters, as well as show any tricksters that someone is home.
- Check for tripping hazards on your porch, in your yard and across your walkway. Even jack-o-lanterns should be placed out of the way to prevent tripping and so no loose fabric can get too close to a candle.
Although you may not be checking for poison or razor blades in your children’s treats, there are plenty of other safety factors to check before and after setting out on a candy quest. Have a happy and safe Halloween, practicing these safety tips and passing them on to your dinosaurs and storm troopers!