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Reflecting on safety
Standards at work
Halloween Safety Tips and Standards

Reflecting on safety

Try standing out in the crowd this Halloween. For “high visibility,” consider adding a reflective strip to your Dracula disguise, or suit up in a pair of reflective sneakers to add an extra kick to your costume. Not only will reflective gear add “glowing” appeal to your Halloween garb, it might just increase your safety as you party hop or trick-or-treat. Reflective materials can be incorporated into many different fashions from vests and coveralls to pants, jackets, shoes and other accessories, all giving you a different level of protection and visibility. When worn, reflective clothing sends light from the headlights back to the driver, alerting him/her that there is someone in or near the road and assuring your safety.

Standards at work

Standards for high visibility safety apparel are generally developed for workers that are exposed to hazardous traffic conditions. Two American National Standards Institute (ANSI) members and ANSI-accredited standards developers, the International Safety Equipment Association (ISEA) and the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM), have established a set of performance criteria for high-visibility safety apparel. ISEA is the trade association in the United States for companies that manufacture safety equipment. Its member companies are world leaders in the design and manufacture of clothing and equipment used in factories, construction sites, hospitals and clinics, farms, schools, laboratories, and in the home – anywhere that people are doing work. The ANSI/ISEA 107 standard establishes three different garment categories, known as conspicuity classes, for different conditions based on worker hazards and tasks, complexity of the work environment or background, and vehicular traffic and speed.

ASTM is a not for profit organization that provides a forum for the development and publication of voluntary consensus standards for materials, products, systems and services. More than 32,000 members representing producers, users, ultimate consumers and representative of government and academia develop documents that serve as the basis for manufacturing, procurement and regulatory activities. The ASTM E1501-99e1 standard covers the performance of retro reflective markings that can be used by pedestrians to increase their conspicuity.


Standards such as those developed by ISEA and ASTM make it less difficult to get tricked when trying to be safe on Halloween. Following the standards’ guidelines and a few simple choices in accessories will make Halloween more of a treat than a trick. Trick-or-treaters and partygoers can benefit from commercially available reflective tape that adheres to clothing, shoes or accessories. Very few manufacturers incorporate reflective materials into their Halloween costumes because they are considered very temporary and could cost too much to make them reflective so it is up to the consumer to add reflective gear to his/her costume. Choosing to accessorize with reflective material apparel is the best way to do this.

Halloween Safety Tips and Standards

  • Flame Resistant Costumes: When purchasing a costume, masks, beards, and wigs, look for the label Flame Resistant. Although this label does not mean these items won't catch fire, it does indicate the items will resist burning and should extinguish quickly once removed from the ignition source. Avoid costumes made with flimsy materials and outfits with big, baggy sleeves or billowing skirts. (Example of an applicable standards reference: ASTM D1230-94 (2001) Standard Test Method for Flammability of Apparel Textiles)
  • Pedestrian Safety: An adult or an older, responsible child should accompany young children. All children should walk, not run from house to house and use the sidewalk rather than walk in the street.
  • Choosing Safe Houses: Children should go only to homes where the residents are known and have outside lights on as a sign of welcome. Children should not enter homes or apartments unless an adult accompanies them.
  • People expecting trick-or-treaters should remove anything that could be an obstacle from lawns, steps and porches. Candlelit jack-o'-lanterns should be kept away from landings and doorsteps where costumes could brush against the flame. Indoor jack-o'-lanterns should be kept away from curtains, decorations, and other furnishings that could be ignited.
  • Costume Designs: Costumes should be short enough to prevent children from tripping and falling. Purchase or make costumes that are light and bright enough to be clearly visible to motorists. To easily see and be seen, children should also carry flashlights. For greater visibility during dusk and darkness, decorate or trim costumes, bags, sacks, jackets and shoes with reflective tape that will glow in the beam of a car's headlights. Reflective tape is usually available in hardware, bicycle, and sporting goods stores. [Editor’s note: Many major shoe designers as well as children’s apparel and accessories manufacturers have already incorporated reflective materials to their products.] (Example of an applicable standards reference: ASTM E1501-99e1, Standard Specification for Nighttime Photometric Performance of Retroreflective Pedestrian Markings for Visibility Enhancement)
  • Apply a natural mask of cosmetics rather than have a child wear a loose-fitting mask that might restrict breathing or obscure vision. If a mask is used, however, make sure it fits securely and has eyeholes large enough to allow full vision.

For more Halloween Safety Tips from some of ANSI’s other members visit:

National Safety Council
National Fire Protection Association
Food and Drug Administration

or contact:
Susanah Doucet – American National Standards Institute  
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