Monday, October 29, 2007


(Yes, it's a bit of a bummer, but it's important info and needs to be said. ;) )


  • Cold weather can be harmful if children are dressed in costumes or clothes that don't protect them.
  • Long costumes can be a tripping hazard for children.
  • Improper masks can interfere with a child's vision or breathing.
  • Swords, knives and other accessories should always be made of flexible material.
  • Flimsy materials, flowing skirts and baggy sleeves can all be hazards around candles or flames.
  • Coloured contact lenses that change eye colour can be a hazard.


  • Carving pumpkins can cause injuries.
  • Candles, jack-o-lanterns, lighters and matches are all fire hazards.
  • Indoor and outdoor decorative lights that are substandard, cracked or frayed can be fire hazards.
  • Halloween candles with multiple wicks close to one another can produce a single high flame or several large flames that produce intense heat and can ignite nearby materials such as curtains and window sills.

Trick or Treating

  • Children who are not accompanied by an adult are vulnerable to injury, bullying by older children or predators.
  • Children running across the street and off the sidewalks risk a collision with a motor vehicle.
  • Unwrapped treats or those in loose packaging from unknown sources may be unsafe to eat.

Minimizing Your Risk

Taking these steps can ensure everyone has a good time.


  • Choose costumes that are loose enough to be worn over warm clothing, but not baggy enough that children trip over them.
  • Pick brightly coloured costumes that can be clearly seen by motorists. Add reflective tape to the costume to increase visibility.
  • Use make-up or face paint rather than masks. If you do choose a mask, make sure it allows your child to see and breathe properly.
  • Look for costumes, beards and wigs that are labelled "Flame-Resistant." Nylon or heavyweight polyester costumes are best. Even so, "Flame-Resistant" does not mean fire-proof. Avoid costumes with baggy sleeves or flowing skirts that could catch fire from flames and candles.
  • Avoid contact lenses that change the colour of the eyes. They should only be used under the supervision of an eye-care professional.


  • Only adults should carve pumpkins. Let children draw a face on the pumpkin, which you can carve.
  • Keep candles, jack-o-lanterns, matches and lighters in a place that children cannot reach.
  • Instead of candles, consider using a small flashlight to light the jack-o-lantern.
  • Make your home safe for ghouls and goblins by removing objects around the outside of your house that could cause children to trip or fall. Turn on your outside lights so that children know they can visit your place.
  • If you are using indoor or outdoor decorative lights, make sure they are certified by a recognized organization such as the Canadian Standards Association or the Underwriters' Laboratory of Canada. Check lights for broken or cracked sockets, frayed or bare wires or loose connections. Do not overload extension cords.
  • Keep pets inside and away from trick or treaters and lit candles, especially if they are easily frightened or over-excitable.

Trick or Treating

  • Go trick or treating with your children each year until they are old enough to go by themselves. When they are old enough, make sure they go with a buddy or in a group. Or follow along at a distance to keep an eye on them.
  • Tell your children to walk, not run from house to house and to stay on the sidewalk or at the side of the road facing traffic. They should only cross the road at the corner and look both ways before crossing.
  • Tell your children to stay in well-lit areas and only visit homes that have their outside lights turned on. Make sure they know never to go inside homes or cars.
  • Give each child a flashlight to carry, to make them more visible.
  • Tell your children not to eat any goodies until you have looked them over. Serve dinner before the children go out, so that they will be less tempted to eat goodies along the way.
  • It is a good idea for you or your child to take a backpack along, to empty goodies into if the loot bag becomes too heavy.
  • Examine the treats your children bring home before they start eating them. Throw out any treats that are not wrapped, have loose or torn wrappers or have holes in the wrappers.
  • Check toys or novelty items for small parts and do not let children under three years of age play with them.
  • You might want to consider an alternative to sugar-based treats, such as sugarless gum. Stickers, multi-coloured pencils or beads can be a nice replacement for, or an addition to, traditional treats. Ask your children for suggestions.
  • For diabetic children, let them eat the potato chips, peanuts and sugar-free gum from the loot bags. They can also keep some of the other treats, such as chocolate and candy, which can fit into their meal plan in the following days or weeks. Leftover treats can be traded with other children or given to less fortunate kids.

General Safety

  • If you are driving on Halloween, be aware of children. Slow down and enter and exit driveways and alleyways cautiously.

NEW YORK, Oct. 3, 1997 --Halloween can be a traumatic and even dangerous time for your pet. Ms. Jacque Schultz, ASPCA Director of Companion Animal Services, offers some common-sense tips to protect your pet on Halloween:

  • Don't leave your pet out in the yard on Halloween: There are plenty of stories of vicious pranksters who have teased, injured, stolen, even killed pets on this night.
  • Trick-or-treat candies are not for pets: Chocolate is poisonous to a lot of animals, and tin foil and cellophane candy wrappers can be hazardous if swallowed.
  • Be careful of pets around a lit pumpkin: Pets may knock it over and cause a fire. Curious kittens especially run the risk of getting burned.
  • Don't dress the dog in costume unless you know he loves it. Otherwise, it puts a lot of stress on the animal.
  • If you do dress up your dog, make sure the costume isn't constricting, annoying or unsafe. Be careful not to obstruct her vision
  • even the sweetest dogs can get snappy when they can't see what's going on around them.
  • All but the most social dogs should be kept in a separate room during trick-or-treat visiting hours; too many strangers in strange garb can be scary for a dog.
  • Be careful your cat or dog doesn't dart out through the open door.

While this can be a fun time for people and pets alike, remember that your pets are depending on you to keep them safe from the more dangerous goblins and ghouls that this holiday brings.

Further questions about animal safety and behavior, can be directed to the Animal Behavior Helpline, 212-876-7700, ext. 4357 (HELP), Monday through Friday 1-5 p.m.

Attention, companion animal caretakers! The ASPCA would like to call your attention to these common-sense cautions that’ll help keep your pets safe and stress-free this time of year.

1. No tricks, no treats: That bowlful of candy is for trick-or-treaters, not for Scruffy and Fluffy. Chocolate in all forms can be very dangerous for dogs and cats, and tin foil and cellophane candy wrappers can be hazardous if swallowed. If you suspect your pet has ingested a potentially dangerous substance, please call your veterinarian or the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center at (888) 426-4435.

2. Popular Halloween plants such as pumpkins and decorative corn are considered to be relatively nontoxic, yet they can produce gastrointestinal upset should pets ingest them. Intestinal blockage could even occur if large pieces are ingested.

3. Keep wires and cords from electric lights and other decorations out of reach of your pets. If chewed, your pet could experience damage to his mouth from shards of glass or plastic, or receive a possibly life-threatening electrical shock.

4. A carved pumpkin certainly is festive, but do exercise extreme caution if you choose to add a candle. Pets can easily knock a lit pumpkin over and cause a fire. Curious kittens especially run the risk of getting burned or singed by candle flames.

5. Dress-up can be a big mess-up for some pets. Please don't put your dog or cat in a costume UNLESS you know he or she loves it (yup, a few pets are real hams!). For pets who prefer their “birthday suits,” however, wearing a costume can cause undue stress.

6. If you do dress up your pet, make sure the costume isn't annoying or unsafe. It should not constrict the animal's movement or hearing, or impede his ability to breathe or bark. Keep a look out for small, dangling, or easily chewed-off pieces on the costume that your pet could choke on.

7. Take a closer look at your pet’s costume and make sure it does not obstruct her vision in any way. Even the sweetest animals can get snappy when they can't see.

8. All but the most social dogs and cats should be kept in a separate room during peak trick-or-treat visiting hours. Too many strangers can be scary and stressful for pets.

9. When opening the door for trick-or-treaters, take care that your cat or dog doesn't dart outside.

10. IDs, please! Always make sure your dog or cat has proper identification. If for any reason your pet escapes and become lost, a collar and tags and/or a microchip increase the chances that he or she will be returned to you.

Health Canada

ASPCA Halloween pet safety

Caring for kids

Children's safety zone

Kidsource halloween pet safety

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