Decorations fill the school hallways as part of the festivities of Halloween. Amid the fun, games, and excitement, it is easy to overlook safety and security practices. Let common sense and these basic reminders guide you in making Halloween a safe and fun event for everyone.
Campus safety and security
While Halloween can consist of fun activities and decorations at school, safety and security should be a high priority. As you host activities, some tips to keep in mind include:
- Ensure that costume props and accessories are school appropriate. Swords, knives, guns, whips, bats, large sticks, needles, brooms, and handcuffs are all examples of potentially dangerous props.
- Be aware of unauthorized or unfamiliar people on campus and make sure visitors follow check-in policies. Masks and face paint can easily conceal identity.
- Keep outdoor areas well-lit. Secure doors and windows for the night. Pumpkins, spray paint, and raw eggs are just a few tools commonly used for vandalism.
- Encourage employees, students, and community members to report suspicious activity and warn them about the seriousness of trespassing.
- Arrange for local law enforcement to patrol around school grounds to discourage potential vandals.
While décor may add to the festivities of the day, it is important to remember basic safety measures:
- Turn off all lights and remove decorations at the end of each day.
- Take home all perishable food items and properly store all non-perishable items in tight containers, especially candy.
- Do not use candles, open flames, or heat generating devices either for fragrance or decoration.
- Ensure that all lights, including string lights are low wattage and that carry the Underwriters Laboratories (UL) labels. These lights must be properly hung without the use of staples, pins, nails, or other metal fasteners. Do not string more than two sets of lights together.
- Only use a single, power strip extension cord as needed. Do not string together (daisy chain) extension cords and do not overload power strips.
- Use proper ladders for difficult-to-reach areas instead of chairs or desks. Do not allow students on ladders if assisting.
- Do not over decorate classrooms or hallways and never wrap a door.
According to fire code, all decorations must meet a ceiling clearance of 18 inches in buildings with sprinklers, and 24 inches in those without a sprinkler system. Fire code also dictates the amount of décor a classroom or office is allowed. In buildings with a sprinkler system, 20 percent of the classroom may be decorated. In non-sprinkled buildings, 50 percent of the classrooms area can be decorated. You canensure proper compliance with the local fire codes by working closely with your fire officials.
Beyond the classroom
Halloween safety also extends to extracurricular activities and to the home. The following are a few safety tips to help ensure Halloween will be a spirited good time:
- Parents or responsible adults should always accompany younger children on neighborhood trick-or-treat routes. Older children should not trick-or-treat alone, plan their routes, share that information with parents, and have a curfew for returning home.
- Trick-or-treaters should be aware of their surroundings at all times, avoid suspicious people and places, and never enter a stranger’s home or backyard. They should not eat any treats until they return home and each item should be carefully checked.
- Cell phones should be well charged and brought along in case of emergencies and as an extra flashlight. However, put down the mobile devices when walking, crossing streets and approaching homes.
- Costumes should be fire-resistant and easily visible after dark. Consider attaching reflective tape to dark costumes to increase visibility. Select masks that do not limit the field of vision. A commonly used alternative to masks is face painting or Halloween makeup. Test the makeup before use to avoid allergic reactions and always remove before going to bed.
- Motorists also should be extra vigilant for trick-or-treaters, especially around dusk which occurs this time of year around prime commuting hours. Many children are crossing streets and driveways or not paying attention to traffic.
Remember, no matter how you spend your Halloween, safety and security is everyone’s responsibility. For more information about emergency management and school security, please contact Melanie Moss at 512.505.2868.
Editor's note: This article was originally published in October 2017 and has been updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness.