How to safety check your child’s Halloween costume

October 30, 2017 | by Sivakami Krishnan, MD

Halloween costumes have come a long way since the 1980s, when suffocating plastic masks were fairly standard accessories.

We’ve learned a lot about costume safety, thankfully. We now know that a little pre-planning can ensure your little ghoul’s health and safety on Halloween night.

Masks should provide enough ventilation and not block your child’s vision, but they aren’t the only thing parents should check out. Makeup, costume fabric and costume accessories all have the potential for harm.

Consumer Reports offers this list of what to wear on Halloween, and what to avoid, including:

  • Buy costumes that are labeled “flame resistant.”
  • Avoid baggy, billowing skirts and cloaks that might brush against a candle-lit jack-o-lantern or luminary.
  • Be cautious when using makeup for face paint. Much of it isn’t approved by the Food and Drug Administration and could trigger allergic reactions

And the American Academy of Pediatrics offers these costume safety tips:

  • Plan costumes that are bright and reflective. Make sure shoes fit well and costumes are short enough to prevent tripping, entanglement or contact with flames.
  • Stand out. Consider adding reflective tape or striping to costumes and trick-or-treat bags for greater visibility.
  • Try makeup instead of masks. Because masks can limit or block eyesight, consider non-toxic makeup and decorative hats as safer alternatives. Hats should fit properly to prevent them from sliding over eyes. Makeup should be tested ahead of time on a small patch of skin to ensure there are no unpleasant surprises on the big day.
  • Find flame resistant. When shopping for costumes, wigs and accessories look for and purchase those with a label clearly indicating they are flame resistant.
  • Inspect accessories. If a sword, cane or stick is a part of your child's costume, make sure it is not sharp or long. A child may be easily hurt by these accessories if he stumbles or trips.
  • Be wary of decorative contact lenses. Do not use decorative contact lenses without an eye examination and a prescription from an eye care professional. While the packaging on decorative lenses will often make claims such as "one size fits all," or "no need to see an eye specialist," obtaining decorative contact lenses without a prescription is both dangerous and illegal. It can cause pain, inflammation, and serious eye disorders and infections, which may lead to permanent vision loss.
  • Review with children how to call 911 (or their local emergency number) if they ever have an emergency or become lost.

Have a happy, healthy driven Halloween!

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