Here are some crucial tips for a safe home—and safe outings—on Halloween.
Take care with candles. Place candles only in a nonflammable and heat-resistant container, at least a foot away from other materials. Keep them out of reach of children, definitely out of a child's room, and put matches where kids can't light candles after they've watched you do so. Never leave a burning candle unattended (especially with kids around) and put them out when you leave the room and before you go to sleep.
Keep kids and costumes away from jack-o'-lanterns, whether indoors or out. Your child needs to know that the candle inside a pumpkin is not a toy and can possibly set a costume on fire. Don't leave a jack-o'-lantern that contains a burning candle unattended and keep it away from curtains, furniture, and other items that could ignite.
Make your lawn and front steps safe for trick-or-treaters. Remove obstacles and tripping hazards such as garden hoses and lawn ornaments. Sweep and remove leaves and make sure your front steps are well lit. Keep jack-o'-lanterns away from doorsteps and areas where children can brush up against them.
Accompany children under 12 when trick-or-treating. Pin a piece of paper with your child's name, address, and phone number inside a pocket in case she gets separated from you. Remind her where the number is located and be sure she has access to it. Older children should always trick-or-treat with a group.
Give cell phones to kids who are old enough to trick-or-treat on their own. Program all your phone numbers into it, and make sure your child knows how to use it. Teach your child only to trick-or-treat at homes that are well-lit and never to enter the home of a stranger, or even the home of an acquaintance that they haven't previously visited with you.
Get more practical child safety and childproofing tips in the Consumer Reports Guide to Childproofing and Safety.
What child safety tips do you recommend? Share your thoughts in comments.