Myths and risks of Halloween safety

Myths and risks of Halloween safety

Halloween is an exciting time for kids and people of all ages. With trick-or-treating, scary movie sessions with friends, school parties, and spooky stories, there’s a lot to look forward to!

Many parents worry that there’s too much risk in Halloween activities, ranging from poisoned candy, physical injuries, and even reckless drivers.

The fine line between Halloween fun and danger can be hard to define, so consider the myths and real safety tips below before getting face-to face with this year’s jack-o’-lanterns.

Halloween myths

Poisonous candy: False

– You’ve heard this story: a neighbor is poisoning the candy they give out to trick-or-treaters. Except this situation hasn’t been reported even once, according to the fact-checking gurus at Snopes.

– While the Smithsonian Magazine acknowledges that there have been specific instances of other foreign objects placed in Halloween candy, they admit it’s usually obvious even at a glance.

Tampered candy: True

– Whether someone is tampering with Halloween candy is more of a real risk than candy being poisoned.

– Sociologist and University of Delaware professor, Joel Best, reported that there were as many as 80 incidents of sharp objects in Halloween candy reported since the late 1950s.

– But, only 10 of these cases had victims with even minor injuries—and only one person required stitches. In the 70s and 80s, these cases were followed up on, and virtually all were hoaxes created by parents or children.

– Though rare as a problem, you should throw away any soiled, unwrapped, or otherwise suspicious-looking items from trick-or-treat bags.

Bona fide risks

Motor vehicles:

– According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), Halloween is consistently a top contender as one of the most dangerous days for pedestrian injuries and even death. They report that 48 percent of all motor vehicle crash deaths are a result of drunk driving.

– Hurrying across the street too quickly accounted for 70 percent of pedestrian deaths and injuries, with the most at-risk ages being unsupervised 12- to 18-year-olds.

Egging houses:

– In 2010, the New York Times published an article that detailed the ubiquity—and surprisingly frequent violence—of Halloween eggings.

– In some cases, culprits have died while trying to escape the scene, while in others, homeowners have chased and killed the people throwing eggs at their home. While this traditional prank may seem innocent, you never know how a victim will respond.

Breaks and cuts:

– Injuries to the hands and fingers are very common on Halloween, with 33 percent from cuts and 20 percent from bone fractures.

– Carving that jack-o’-lantern actually accounts for over 50 percent of lacerations to the hand, while most falling accidents that cause fractures result from ill-fitted, loose costumes with materials gathered at the feet.

Sex crimes:

– Many cities have outright banned sex offenders from attending Halloween events. The Rape, Abuse, and Incest National Network (RAINN) also offers a safety tip sheet for Halloween.

– Despite the reasonable concern, however, an analysis of the National Incidence Based Reporting System’s crime report shows no increased rate of reported sex crimes on Halloween.

Costume contact lenses:

– Cosmetic contact lenses can make a good costume great—but most of them aren’t approved by the FDA.

– Untested lenses can result in prolonged eye irritation, scratched retinas, and more serious infections.

Halloween safety tips

To help ensure that both adults and children stay safe, the American Academy of Pediatrics created a list of Halloween safety precautions for adventurous trick-or-treaters and their guardians.

Costume safety:

– Make certain that all costume materials are fire resistant.

– Avoid costumes with features that obstruct vision, like masks with eye holes that are too small.

– Put some reflective tape, glow sticks, or blinking lights on costumes to increase visibility for pedestrians and drivers.

– To avoid skin and eye irritants, remove all makeup before going to bed.

Being out and about:

– If the children are young, be sure that a responsible adult accompanies them at all times.

– For older kids, make sure to discuss an agreed-upon route they can review and stick to.

– Set a specific time kids should return home by.

– Make sure they know to never enter a stranger’s home or vehicle.

– Ensure they know not to eat any of their candy before they come home.

Pet safety:

– Halloween is a very busy time of year for calls to the poison control center at the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA).

– Pets who eat chocolate can suffer extreme diarrhea, vomiting, seizures, and even death. Make sure to keep all treats out of reach before the night is over.

Motor vehicle precautions:

To avoid risks from reckless or unobservant drivers, review the following safety tips with kids:

– Crossing only at street corners;

– Using traffic signals and crosswalks;

– Looking both ways before crossing;

– Watching drivers as they pass to make sure they see you;

– Avoiding cell phone use when near the road.


While Halloween may be a night of spooky events, with the right precautions, there’s no reason the holiday can’t be exciting and safe!