Halloween is one of the most anticipated holidays of the year. Children look forward to costumes and candy. They wait for nightfall because that’s when ghouls and goblins are on the prowl. It should be a fun time and it can, but we must do our part to make it safe.
Sadly, statistics tell us that Halloween is the deadliest night of the year for pedestrians. Twice as many children are killed while walking on this holiday night than any other. And the hours between 4 and 10 p.m. are the deadliest. Children in dark costumes, darting into traffic, with little supervision can be a deadly combination. The fear of poisoned or tampered treats persists strongly, but research shows that few incidents occur each year. Being hit by a car is a much more realistic danger.
The good news is that most parents have talked to their children about Halloween safety. And 75% of parents never let their child trick-or-treat unsupervised. But alarmingly, more 12% of parents report that their child age five or younger is permitted to go without an adult. This is a dangerous practice.
Safety messages with simple precautions should be reinforced each year:
- Wear reflective gear so you are seen
- Take a flashlight to see where you are walking and to be seen by others
- Stay on sidewalks or paths
- If you must be in the street, stay close to the curb, walk with the traffic
- Cross only at corners
- Tall adults are much easier to see than smaller goblins
Parents must be mindful when selecting costumes. Does the mask make it difficult to see? Do the baggy pants or long skirt cause trips and falls? Are they carrying a sword, cane or other sharp object? Is the costume made of fire-retardant material? Costumes can be scary and safe. Choose face paint instead of a mask. Decorate costumes and bags with reflective tape or stickers.
Drivers must take responsibility too. Be especially alert in residential neighborhoods. Drive more slowly. Expect children to be in the area. Drive with your full headlights on so you can see a greater distance. Put down the cell phone and anything else that may distract you. Concentrate on your driving and keeping our kids safe.
In 2010, more than 80% of child pedestrian deaths occurred at non-intersection locations. Driveways, parking lots and sidewalks are the locations where young children under three years of age suffer the highest number of injuries as pedestrians. Stay on the look-out. Practice with your children – look left, right and left again before entering an area we are sharing with cars.
When it comes to childhood injury prevention, repeated and consistent messages are the keys to safety. Assuring safety while participating in Halloween activities should be top-of-mind for every parent in America.