Halloween Is Here: So Are Safety Warnings That Can Save Lives
Dressing up in a clever costume for the night of all nights – Halloween – is the kind of stuff children live for. Portraying a character, walking around the neighborhood with friends and getting free candy – what could be better?
The Fall festivities and fun unfortunately come with risks, some of them downright spooky. Precautions should be taken by parents on behalf of their festooned little ones so the hallowed eve turns into one that is remembered for years to come.
“Everyone loves a good scare on Halloween, but not when it comes to child safety,” according to an article on the Safe Kids Worldwide Web site. “There are several easy and effective behaviors that parents can share with kids to help reduce their risk of injury.”
Statistics show the chance of a child getting hit and killed by a car more than doubles on Halloween. The tragedy is preventable and never should happen. Here are some tips from Safe Kids Worldwide that should be top-of-mind.
Use glow-in-the-dark stickers or reflective tape to both decorate costumes and make them more visible by drivers. Do the same with the bags or plastic pumpkins children are carrying to collect their goodies. With regard to masks, they quickly and easily can obstruct views, so a good alternative is face paint or makeup to give the desired illusion. Another best practice is to find costumes that are fire-resistant or flame-retardant. Superhero capes and witches dresses don’t mix with candles and jack-o’-lanterns. Also, when choosing a costume, make sure the fit is right, and that it’s not too big. Otherwise, it could get caught on something, like a rear-view mirror, or under something, like a vehicle tire.
Have at least one child in the trick-or-treating pack bring a flashlight to help avoid trips and falls. Safe Kids Worldwide advises that adult supervision is a must for children up to age 12. Children who are more mature and can meander the sidewalks alone never should wander into unfamiliar territory, unlit territory, alleys and backroads and always should stay in groups.
Ditch the devices. Staring at a cellphone while walking is hazardous enough in the daytime and that much more dangerous in the dark. The all-to-common habit can lead to injury and death.
Traditional trick-or-treating times are 6 to 9 p.m. That is when drivers are most alert about ghosts and goblins out and about. Children should call it quits after that – even though they will want more candy – and head for home. This year, Halloween is on a Tuesday, and the school bell rings the following morning.
Once home, parents should examine all treats to make sure they are fresh, the wrappers are not ripped, and there are no foreign objects that could be choked on. Don’t let children eat all their treats at once, even though the temptation is there. Too much sugar is unhealthy. Homemade treats given out by strangers should be avoided.
A National Safety Council report, Injury Facts 2017, found that an approximate 6,700 pedestrian fatalities and another 160,000 pedestrian injuries requiring medical attention occurred on Halloween in 2015, the latest year for which figures are available. Of those numbers, an estimated 17 percent of the incidents involved children crossing streets improperly. Fifteen percent of the incidents were caused by poor visibility. Darting into the road also was a factor.
“Kids love the magic of Halloween: Trick-or-treating, classroom parties and trips to a neighborhood haunted house,” the council states in an article titled “Spooky Truths Regarding Halloween Safety On and Off the Road.” “But for moms and dads, often there is a fine line between Halloween fun and safety concerns, especially when it comes to road and pedestrian safety.”
That said, motorists must take responsibility to help lower the statistics so more children survive the evening. Here are some more tips from both organizations.
- Look for children on curbs and in medians, not just at intersections.
- When pulling out of driveways, use extra caution to make sure a child isn’t inadvertently backed into.
- If possible, keep the car at home Halloween night and don’t drive.
For those who must drive, Safe Kids Worldwide warns, “Slow down and be especially alert in residential neighborhoods. Children are excited on Halloween and may move in unpredictable ways.”
Motorists can go the extra mile by eliminating distractions in their vehicles while driving on Halloween night – the navigation system, the radio, talking, eating, etc. – and might save a life in doing so. The key is to focus on the surroundings, drive slowly and anticipate a child will run into traffic.
Look both ways!