#6 - Special Episode: Ghosts and Guardians

02 podcast family care
Halloween Pumpkin

#006 - Special Episode: Ghosts and Guardians - the 4 P's of Halloween Safety

Welcome to a bonus "Spoooooky Episode" where we learn all about the 4 P's of Halloween Safety. We also have a surprise guest, so sit back, relax, and try not to get too scared!


Show Notes

  • Host: Dr. Tom Rountree, Family Medicine Doctor specializing in Direct Primary Care
  • Location: Clinton Township, Michigan


  • 00:01.41: Introduction and Opening Chat
  • 00:40.75: Origin of Halloween & Statistics
  • 03:06.55: The First P: People
  • 05:13.114: Importance of Tracking and Communication
  • 07:36.95: The Second P: Places
  • 09:16.782: The Third P: Props
  • 11:29.41: Pumpkin Carving Safety
  • 12:44.046: The Fourth P: Pets
  • 14:53.822: Closing Remarks

Key Points


  • Discussion about what costumes kids would like for Halloween, including the concept of a "zombie ghost."

Halloween Origin and Stats

  • Origin traced back to a Gaelic festival.
  • 41 million potential trick-or-treaters aged 5-14 in the U.S.
  • List of most common Halloween costumes.
  • List of spooky-named cities in the U.S.

The Four P's of Halloween Safety

1. People

  • Importance of 'Stranger Danger'
  • Recommended age for solo trick-or-treating is around 15 or 16.
  • Never get into someone's car.

2. Places

  • Choose well-lit, familiar neighborhoods.
  • Use online tools like the FBI Crime Data Explorer.
  • Alternative: Use Neighbors by Ring app for real-time community updates.

3. Props

  • Costume safety: Flame-resistant material, reflective tapes, etc.
  • Candy inspection for allergies.

4. Pets

  • Avoid costumes that can choke or restrict movement.
  • Designate a safe space for pets during the festivities.

Special Mention

  • Use tracking apps or walkie-talkies to stay in touch.
  • Importance of a check-in policy for children.


  • Recap of the four P's of Halloween safety: people, places, props, and pets.
  • Thank you and sign-off by Dr. Tom Rountree.


Welcome to a particularly spooky episode of the Clear Health Podcast. Today we're going to talk about the four P's of safety for Halloween.

Why don't you tell me what do you want to be for Halloween? Um, a ghost. A ghost? No, a zombie. A zombie? OK, what about a zombie ghost? Does that sound good? What's a zombie ghost? A zombie ghost is like a zombie that was alive or partly dead, but then he gets turned into a ghost. Why? Well, sometimes it happens.

Halloween originated from a Gaelic festival, acknowledging the end of the harvest season and the beginning of winter. And it kind of makes sense in the United States because it's celebrated on the 31st of October, and it's filled with several activities like trick-or-treating, carving pumpkins, wearing costumes, and social celebrations. There are about 41 million potential trick-or-treaters estimated...

by the US Census and they're aged about five to 14 all across the US. There's also an estimation of about 130 million homes and apartments where people live and possible places for trick-or-treaters to visit. Some of the most common Halloween costumes include actors, athletes and sports, dentists, firefighters, surgeons, and other physicians, police officers, and at the very top, registered nurses at 2.6.

million. And just so you know there are spooky places including Scarville City, Iowa, Slaughter Beach Town, Delaware, Tombstone City, Arizona, Bad Axe City, Michigan, or I'm at, Kill Devil Hills Town in North Carolina, Sleepy Hollow Village, Monster Town, Salem City, and Casper City, Wyoming. I don't know about you but I would sure like to be safe around those places.

So the four P's of Halloween safety, people, places, props, and pets. Now, people is about who you're with matters, and our favorite little guys running around are our kids. So it's important that we actually look after them, and we talk about stranger danger, the importance of saying no, and letting them listen to their own gut feeling.

Now there isn't really a recommended age for solo trick or treating, but I would say around 15 or 16 might be reasonable. And at that time they're developing their own independence and they're realizing that, oh, I'm a single individual with the ability to say no and to choose my own path. We must never get in somebody's car, right? Why?

because it's a stranger and they could take you away from us. So you tell them, what do you say? If somebody asks, get into my car, what do you say? No. Yeah, exactly.

Like a wolf's car. And until then, I would definitely have an adult supervise younger kids. Plus, even if they are a little bit older, they should definitely pair up. So, if they have a good friend in the neighborhood or friend at school, I would definitely pair them up with somebody who they trust and who also has a good sense of their surroundings.

Now with stranger danger, which is equally as important, you have to teach your kids to never enter someone's house or car and really, really instill into them that they can say no. And if the person does not respect them, then they have to raise an alarm. They have to yell, they have to get the attention of other trick or treaters, and they have to say, stop, stop.

I do not like what you're doing and then run away. And it's okay for them to actually trust their gut feeling. They can say, you know, I'm feeling bad. I just wanna leave out of here and that's totally fine. And it's important to just remind them that it's okay to follow your gut. Now, there should be some type of check-in policy.

Right, maybe every hour, maybe every 30 minutes, just some type of check-in time or check-in policy to let you as the parent know where your child is. Now, you can also use walkie talkies or mobile tracking apps. This is what me and my wife used because we used to live out in the countryside during residency, so we'd go on these long runs or long bike rides.

And this is why we would turn the trackers on our phones, just in case something happened and we need the other person to come get us. Now, also remember that they should have fully charged mobile phones before they go out. So that's another good one to actually remind them about. Now, the second part we're gonna talk about is places. Where you go actually counts, right? So you wanna look...

into safe neighborhoods. Now what does that mean? You want to choose well-lit, familiar neighborhoods and you want to also check out maybe the crime or statistics in that neighborhood. Online you can use the Federal Bureau of Investigation Crime Data Explorer and this offers multiple filters as well as location and year to look at what's going on.

in as far as crime goes in that city. Now, remember, these things can be skewed, right? So it could be that data was taken last year, but this year it's different. And you always want to keep that in mind. Now, something very cool I came across is Neighbors by Ring. And Ring is a company that uses those doorbells that have the camera on them. As soon as you see the...

Action online, like on YouTube where they post videos of people doing funny things in front of a doorbell. Well, they also have neighborhood security in an app as well. So it's called Neighbors By Ring. And what they do is neighbors can then talk to each other and keep everybody informed. So an example, there was a Wisley fire that devastated numerous communities in California, but as residents fled the...

Flames, the neighbors app kept them informed and connected to real time updates from their communities. So very important and very useful. Lastly, you can just see where there's a bunch of well populated areas. If you're going to that neighborhood, look and just check out, are there a bunch of trigger treaters outside? Next, you should always teach your children some house rules. Teaching children to only approach houses

with porch lights on and avoiding homes with loose or barking animals, as well as like some warning signs to look out for. If the no trespassing sign does not have cobwebs on it and spiders, then it could be a real trespassing sign and you don't want your kiddos to go past that. If they're going to endure events, you want to be sure that they're being safely supervised by older adults.

who are either aware of danger and have maybe lived through some danger that's always helpful. And if they're a ex-police or fireman or nurse or doctor supervising this event, that's always good. And then you wanna tell your kids, hey, know where the exit is, where the fire extinguisher is, and where the adults are. Little bit hard, but...

they do remember some things. So you also want to make sure that you're aware, at least personally, that when somebody goes indoors and gathers with other people, that's when they are more likely to catch infections. In fact, that's why people become more infected with colds and viruses over the winter is because everybody goes inside

and gathers next to everyone else. So just keep that in mind that if they do go to an indoor event, there's a higher chance of just catching something there.

The third thing you wanna think about is props. And this includes things like costumes and candy, things you may put on your front lawn and the other kids may run into. So we can first kind of think about costume safety. And we wanna make sure that the costumes that our little guys wear are flame resistant, right? And making sure your own is flame resistant, that's always helpful.

And you can also use things like reflective tapes or cool little stickers for visibility. And you could even just make them part of the costume, right? So my little dude has a shield and I'm going to put reflective tape across that shield. And also you wanna make sure that the mask that they wear does not obstruct their vision. So they wanna be able to see where they're going. You can think about cutting the eye holes a little bit bigger.

making sure if they're wearing a mask that they can adequately breathe through it. And I would always recommend instead of a mask, you might want to wear some makeup instead. And along those lines, if you are going to apply makeup to children or even yourself, you want to just dab a little bit on the back of your hand or your arm and leave it on there for about 24 hours.

And that way you can see if you develop any type of allergic reaction to it. And while the chance is low, you just wanna make sure that it's been on there for about 24 hours because reactions can occur for up to 24 hours later.

Now, candy inspection, right? Just be careful about homemade items or unwrapped items. You wanna inspect them very carefully and make sure your kids know to do a candy inspection as well. Then always you want to filter out any allergies that your kiddo may have like the peanuts and make sure those aren't present. Now, the next thing.

that comes to mind, and this is likely earlier in the month, probably not carving now, maybe you are if you go to a party, but if you're carving pumpkins, make sure that there is at least plastic tools for little kiddos and not the sharp metal knives, and make sure that you're kind of putting your hand on their hand and guiding them. Instead of saying no, not like that, one of the things that we learned in jujitsu when teaching little kids,

is just take your hand and guide them into the correct position. And then when they get there, say, yeah, that's it. That's what you're supposed to do. Instead of saying no, not like that, or no, do it this way. If you keep saying no, it kind of ruins the fun a little bit if you imagine somebody saying it to you. And then you just kind of stop doing that thing you were doing. So there are other alternatives to pumpkin carving.

and you may want to think about those. And then also, like I said, make sure there's some adult supervision leading him through how to carve a pumpkin.

The last part is pets. So we wanna keep our little furry friends safe and consider if we're going to put costumes on them or not. I always recommend against costumes because unfortunately I have seen or heard about multiple accidents to pets I haven't put in costumes. And one of the especially ones is getting caught either in fences

or nets in the household, and they choke themselves to death. You always just want them to be comfortable and have really good movement. So if you're just tying something around them or putting something on them, you may consider only putting it on their torso and not on their legs or anywhere around the neck or anywhere around their tail. Because if you do not give them freedom of movement and they get stuck,

They can end up hurting themselves or breaking a bone or pulling a muscle. And we just don't want our little furry friends to be unhappy. So you can always designate kind of a safe space for your pets, right? You can have a guest room where you can initially put the pet in and show them that nobody else is going to be in this room and they can rest comfortably there. If they get too stressed. Um.

with all of the guests coming into your house or people knocking on the door and they can sit there and stay there. You can also cover up your doorbell, right? Put a spider right on the doorbell so that way nobody's knocking or nobody's ringing the doorbell. Instead, they're knocking on your front door. And then you really don't want your pets to have access to the treats that could actually be toxic to them and harm them.

So instead of putting all the treats on the floor, you may wanna think about putting them up on the table.

Well, that wraps up this podcast. Remember the four P's of Halloween safety, people, places, props, and pets. Thank you guys for listening, and I hope you had a great time. I'm Dr. Tom Rountree, a family medicine doc practicing the awesome art of direct primary care in Clinton Township, Michigan. You guys have a safe and happy Halloween, and thanks so much for listening.



Disclaimer The Clear Health Podcast is for general informational purposes only and does not constitute the practice of medicine, nursing or other professional health care services, including the giving of medical advice, and no doctor/patient relationship is formed. The use of information on this podcast or materials linked from this podcast is at the user’s own risk. The content of this podcast is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Users should not disregard or delay in obtaining medical advice for any medical condition they may have and should seek the assistance of their health care professionals for any such conditions.

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