With Halloween just around the corner, the search for the perfect Halloween costume can be a tedious endeavor. Many parents and children end up hastily making or purchasing their costume at the last minute. Whether you made or bought your Halloween costumes this year, there are a few important factors to take into account as far as safety goes. We looked at the most popular costumes by year since 2009 and highlighted some aspects of each costume that could be made safer. Before you venture out into the night, use this simple safety reminder to mark off the do’s and don’t’s for making sure your Halloween costume this year is a safe one.

The Most Popular Costumes by Year

According to a recent study done by NPR, the most popular costume from 2009 to 2013 was a witch. The second most popular costume during this time was a vampire, with the exception of 2013. In 2013 the second most popular costume was Batman. And third place was held by the classic pirate costume. Here are some suggestions to make these popular choices a safe one.

The Witch

For little spooky witches, consider the length of your gown. Avoid stumbling on your wardrobe by making sure your dress or skirt is a good length for the activities in which you’ll be participating. Costumes should fit well and not drag on the ground to guard against accidents. Children especially should wear well-fitting, sturdy shoes. Oversized high heels are not a good idea. Witches usually ride on broomsticks. Be sure your broom isn’t going to be a hazard. This goes for all Halloween accessories. Swords, knives and similar costume accents should be made of soft, flexible material. Consider making your witch’s broom out of cardboard or buying one made of rubber!

The Vampire

Vampires have long been known to wear all-black and only venture out at night. For greater visibility during dusk and darkness, decorate or trim costumes with reflective tape that will glow in the beam of a car’s headlights. Bags or sacks also should be light colored or decorated with reflective tape. Reflective tape is usually available in hardware, bicycle and sporting goods stores. For your costume, regardless of what it is, choose flame-resistant fabrics such as nylon or polyester, or look for the label “Flame Resistant.” Flame-resistant fabrics will resist burning and should extinguish quickly. To minimize the risk of contact with candles and other fire sources, avoid costumes made with flimsy materials and outfits with big, baggy sleeves or billowing capes. Candles and jack-o’-lanterns should be kept away from doorsteps and landings especially where costumes could brush against the flame.

The Pirate

The iconic pirate costume often includes an eye-patch. This can be especially dangerous for children. If your child wears a pirate patch (or decides to be Batman at the last minute and wants to wear a mask), make sure it fits securely, provides adequate ventilation, and has holes large enough to allow full vision. Improperly fitted masks are known to interfere with your child’s vision or breathing. Use make-up or face paint instead of masks. If you MUST choose a mask, make sure it fits properly and allows them to see and breathe properly. Pirates live on the ocean, where the weather is sunny and the air is salty. You may not live in a place that is as warm as a pirate’s natural habitat. Wear costumes that can be layered in situations where the weather is known or likely to be cold or wet.

Happy Halloween from Protect America!

Halloween can be the spookiest time of year for parents who have to worry about possible trick-or-treating dangers and hazardous costumes. Even adults should take these extra safety precautions in order to make sure everyone’s costume this year is a safe one!