Halloween Must Haves: Trick-or-Treat Safety Tips for Parents

How do you keep your kiddos visible and safe on Halloween? These trick-or-treat safety hacks will keep your little ones visible after dark!

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:

1. Headlamps

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.

See that blinding strip around my little spider’s neck?

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

Also think about other ways you might add a little reflective bling to your kiddos’ costumes. There are so many ways you can go with this:

4. Clip-on blinky lights

Two all-black costumes, two reflective chokers, two 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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62 thoughts on “Halloween Must Haves: Trick-or-Treat Safety Tips for Parents”

  1. Thank you for the reminder! Super appreciate it since the kids plan to go trick or treating this year. Will use the blinking lights we have for biking.

  2. These are some wonderful safety tips! We just started trick or treating. We enjoy going to our local trunk or treat and plan to go again this year.

  3. Thank you for these great ideas. During fun, we shouldn’t compromise with safety and that too of our small kiddos. I didn’t know about Blinky lights and these vests.

  4. I get so nervous whenever I have to drive on Halloween night for the very reasons you mentioned: little kids in dark costumes. These are great ideas to help us all be proactive about safety. Thanks!

  5. Excellent tips. Staying visible while trick or treating is important for the kids and the accompanying parents. I like using a headlamp for myself and then my son usually gets reflective strips added to his costume, since some costumes don’t allow for headlamps.

  6. I love that all of the ideas you proposed aren’t just good from a safety POV; they’re reusable and multi-purpose, so good to have on hand any time of year.

    1. YES! Thanks for noticing and commenting on this. Yes, my kids love the glow necklaces and bracelets, but I hate that they are single-use only and just end up as disposable clutter after 24 hours…

  7. These are excellent safety ideas! In Switzerland going trick or treating it is not a popular custom. But last year the neighbourhood suggested to do something special for Halloween this year and I’m so excited! I will definitely take safety into account!

    1. Haha, then this is definitely less of a concern overall where you live! In the US it can be a real problem; pedestrians are at higher risk of being hit by cars on Halloween because of dark costumes, kids walking around after dark in neighborhoods with no sidewalks and poor lighting (that would be ours), etc.

  8. Great tips not only for safety but can also look really fun! The headlamps are handy to have around the house for lots of uses. I use them to walk my dogs at night or even to go out into the garage to find something. Happy Halloween!

  9. These are great tips! This is our first-year trick or treating with our daughter. We’ll probably try to go out while it’s a still a little light out. If it’s too cold, then we’ll probably go to the mall or something lol

    1. We used to do that when we were little, too, but where I live now they confine trick-or-treating to a set time block, so getting out before dark really isn’t an option :(…

  10. We don’t celebrate Halloween in my country as you do in US, so I haven’t thought of these safe tips and how important they are, especially for children.We do have some Halloween parties though!

    1. Our kids are bummed that they each only have ONE headlamp – so much fun for playing! And the reflective straps are such a handy thing for all sorts of situations…

  11. Great Halloween safety tips for you and the whole family! The streets are dangerous in the dark and these reflectors and headlamps are sure to help.

    1. They totally do – I can always tell when my family is returning home on the years when I stay to hand out the candy, because I can see them coming!

  12. This is a great guidelines to all of parents from their children who attend for the Halloween party.I love this advises!

  13. These are some great ideas! We already had glow necklaces last year so my boys used those, but I don’t like the idea of the single-use either. My boys both have headlamps, I never thought of them for Halloween!

    1. Then you’re all set! I was so impressed the year my husband first did this for himself (when Kimmie was still tiny enough to carry), and it’s been a staple for us ever since!

  14. These are great tips! Sometimes when you are having fun, its easy to forget that safety still needs to be the number one priority. We will not be taking my little one trick or treating for a few more years, but I will file these away for later.

  15. I do not celebrate Halloween, mostly due to I do not have children. But I like the light ideas for when I get very early and it is still dark outside. I like to walk early in the morning in my development. These light ideas are just wanted I needed.

    1. Then you definitely need them, too! I guess runners and those who need to walk their dogs think of these things already, but these basic safety precautions could go a long way toward keeping littles safe on Halloween as well…

    1. Isn’t it? That’s one we haven’t tried yet, but I was happy to come across it when researching the different options for this post!

    1. You are more than welcome! It breaks my heart every year to see cars trying to avoid the little hard-to-see shadows in our neighborhood on Halloween…

    1. Yesssss…..tell me about it! We seem to be the only ones whose kids are easy to see on our neighborhood’s poorly-lit streets every year…

  16. I don’t think Halloween is happening this year for me. It was never really a favorite of mine to begin with, and my husband I think will be out of town. We were going to throw a party if he were home but I really don’t think he will be. So me, yeah, I will stay home – IN THE SAFETY ZONE!!! Ha! Although I have a feeling when Falkor (my future son) is born, yep, Halloween is HAPPENING!

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