Your Family Today: Health
Safety Tips for a Spook-free Halloween
By Gail Belsky for Your Family Today
Ghosts and goblins, vampires and bats. Halloween is one scary night. For some kids and their families, however, the horror is all too real. According to government figures, Halloween is the most dangerous day of the year for kids between the ages of 5 and 12. Here’s why:
- Most car/pedestrian accidents happen between 4 p.m. and 8 p.m. — peak trick-or-treating hours, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. The average number of pedestrian deaths among kids ages 5 to 14 quadruples on Halloween, according to the national Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
- More than 80 percent of the fatal pedestrian accidents involving kids on Halloween happened at non-intersections, according to the CDC, suggesting that jaywalking may be partly to blame.
- When Halloween falls on Friday or Saturday, the number of fatalities jumps 30 percent, according to the NHTSA.
- When Halloween falls on a Friday or Saturday night, it’s not just kids who are out celebrating — adults are coming and going to parties too. That puts more cars out on the road and more drunk drivers behind the wheel.
So what can you do to protect your children without taking all the fun out of their favorite night? The Automobile Association of America suggests the following steps:
See and be seen Buy or make bright costumes in light colors. Add reflective tape to increase visibility.
Size it up Make sure your children’s costumes fit properly and that nothing is hanging loose for them to trip over.
Get flashy Equip them with flashlights and fresh batteries but tell them to never shine them in other people’s eyes, particularly motorists.
Map it out Plan your children’s trick-or-treat route in advance. Have them take well-lit streets with even sidewalks and avoid areas with heavy traffic.
Buddy up Make sure that an adult or responsible teenager walks with younger children.
Review the rules Regular traffic safety rules are especially important to follow on Halloween. Go over the basics: stay on the sidewalk, cross at crosswalks, stop at driveways to check for cars and avoid walking in front of, behind or between parked cars.
Traffic isn’t the only potential hazard facing trick-or-treaters. When your children are old enough to go out on their own, they need to be aware of their surroundings. Tell them to stay in areas that are familiar to them and stick to the route you’ve laid out. Set a curfew and remind them to stop only at houses or apartments that are well-lit and to never enter a stranger’s home.
Tell your children not to eat any treats before you have a chance to inspect them. (You’ll cut down on some of the temptation if you give them a snack or light meal before they leave home.) When looking through their loot, throw out any candy or treat that has a broken seal or isn’t factory-wrapped.
Halloween rules will go down a lot better if you lay the groundwork ahead of time. Start by making a list — well in advance — so everyone knows what to expect. Place it in an area of the house where your kids are sure to notice it (on the refrigerator, on the bathroom wall, in the bedroom, in their lunchbox or backpack). For younger children, sit down and read through the list, making sure they understand the reason for the rules.
And then, on the big night, remind them of what they need to do, hand them their candy buckets or pillowcases and send them out into the dark for a night of scary good fun.