So you’ve got the Halloween costumes ready to go. And you’ve bought out the candy section of your local store. But have you checked trick-or-treat safety off your list yet?
Think about it: Little people are tiny. A lot of creepy Halloween costume ideas (vampire, witch, spider, etc.) are dark. And in many places, trick-or-treating takes place well after sundown, on neighborhood streets that aren’t necessarily well-lit.
Our girls have definitely had a “thing” for costumes with lots of black in them: Ladybug. Bumblebee. Spider. And more recently, vampire and witch. Making sure they’re visible on the road has, therefore, long been a priority for us.
- Yes, you can get your kids glow-stick bracelets and wands every year to help their visibility. Yes, these are fun for the kids. But they’re also single-use and add to landfill clutter.
- Yes, your trick-or-treating party can carry flashlights. But it’s not always easy (or fun) to carry a flashlight when you’ve also got a loot bag to worry about.
However, there are other ways to keep your kids visible and safe, both on Halloween and in other low-light situations (say, biking home from a friend’s house after dark), that you can reuse every year. Here are some of our fave must-haves for trick-or-treat safety come Halloween each year.
Originally published Oct. 10, 2018; last updated October 2021.
Our Family’s Must-Haves for Trick-or-Treat Safety
The fact that our family loves camping and bicycling has been a huge help in this department. We outfit our girls in these low-profile, unobtrusive items each year when they go trick-or-treating. The parent whose turn it is to walk the neighborhood with them also wears some of these items.
Between parent and kiddo, our kids are easy to spot at all times, even if their black costumes would otherwise cause them to disappear into the darkness.
So if you haven’t tried any of these high-visibility Halloween add-ons yet, it’s not too late to stock up in time for this year’s trick-or-treating, and add trick-or-treat safety to your Halloween checklist:
At the very least, every member of your trick-or-treating party should have their own headlamp. If you’re not familiar with them, headlamps are flashlights that strap to your head. Headlamps aren’t just for underground miners anymore; they’re the hands-free camping flashlights for the 21st century.
You can get a basic headlamp for as little as $15. Most include multiple power modes (high power, low power, and flashing). Some also include a red-light option, which is great for going stargazing. The adjustable headbands mean that kids can wear adult versions, but kid-specific models usually have even “cooler” prints and designs.
Bonus of kids wearing headlamps while trick-or-treating: they can see where they’re going! We usually put the girls’ headlamps on them facing forward, and put the adult’s facing backward on flashing mode, for added visibility to traffic. When my kids have a costume involving headgear, they just set them on flashing mode and wear them around their necks like a necklace.
2. Reflective straps
If anyone in your family jogs, walks, or bikes in early morning or late evening, you probably already have some reflective hook-and-loop closure straps lying around.
If not, they’re an inexpensive investment in Halloween safety that you can reuse for years to come.
The year our girls were a bat and a spider for Halloween (two all-black costumes!), they each wore a strap like a choker necklace. Those straps were so reflective, it was impossible to get any decent costume pictures once they had them on.
If you don’t already have some of these and are just buying them for the kids for Halloween, reflective slap bracelets are a fun alternative. If your kids are like mine, they love slap bracelets so much that they won’t complain a bit about wearing them with their costume!
3. Reflective add-ons
- Sew small strips of reflective ribbon/tape strategically onto their outfits.
- Consider ways you can add in light or reflective colors to an otherwise dark outfit, such as the bright yellow duct tape on Kimmie’s DIY bumblebee costume from preschool. Or (if the costume involves duct tape anyway) make sure some of that duct tape is metallic/reflective.
- Your kids could also wear reflective socks with their costumes.
- Brainstorm other ways to add reflective fun to your kiddos’ costumes – maybe some reflective stickers on their trick-or-treat bag? (There are even reflective stickers that blend in with black costumes, but reflect light back in darker settings!)
4. Clip-on blinky lights
Clip-on blinky lights are another goodie we have lots of around, since both Mama and Daddy have been out cycling too close to sunset more than once. I always tuck a few of these in my hydration pack when I ride, in case something happens to my regular headlamp and taillight.
Even if your child already has a headlamp and some reflective add-ons, a blinky light or two is a great (and inexpensive!) way to add another layer of protection. Plus, they’re fun for kids to use. And tiny, and bright, yet also long-lasting as far as battery power goes.
5. A hi-vis reflective vest or jacket
I’ll admit upfront, the chances of your kiddos putting something like this on over their costumes is about nil. So consider the fact that the grownup WITH the kids also needs to be visible.
If you’re a runner or cyclist, you may already have a high-visibility yellow vest with reflective elements. My husband wears his hi-vis jacket or vest whenever it’s his turn to take the girls trick-or-treating. But if this isn’t already in your wardrobe, you’ve still got time before The Big Night to consider this upgrade. They don’t cost much, pack up small, and can make a huge difference in keeping your group visible after dark.
What about you? What’s your top safety gear for your kids when trick-or-treating? Let us know in the comments!
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