Halloween is among the most joyfully anticipated holidays for children in the United States. Carving pumpkins, donning festive costumes and trick-or-treating are popular activities. Yet, Halloween can be rife with potential injury dangers, too, ranging from pedestrian accidents to falls to burns to poisonings. Assuring safety while participating in Halloween activities should be the first consideration for every parent and caregiver.
“Kids need safety instruction before they go out trick-or-treating,” says Cherie Sage, State Director for Safe Kids Kansas. “Many kids will be out trick-or-treating while it’s dark when it’s more difficult for drivers to see them.”
There are several easy and effective rules that parents can share with kids to help reduce their risk of injury. For example, children younger than age 12 should not be alone crossing streets on Halloween without an adult. If older kids are mature enough to go trick-or-treating without adult supervision, parents should make sure they go in a group and stick to a planned route with good lighting.
On average, twice as many kids are killed while walking on Halloween between 4 and 10 p.m. compared to the same hours on other days throughout the year, according to a 2011 study published by Safe Kids Worldwide. Drivers need to be extra alert as there will be more children on the streets and sidewalks and those kids may be focused on gathering candy and the excitement of the holiday rather than being careful while crossing streets. Safe Kids Kansas urges drivers to slow down on neighborhood roads to make Halloween more enjoyable for everyone and to help save lives.
“While it’s a good idea for children to have a cell phone with them in case of an emergency, remind them to pay attention to their surroundings and not be distracted from hazards because they are texting or talking on the phone,” added Sage.
While pedestrian safety is a main concern on Halloween, parents and kids should also be careful when dealing with candy. “While kids never want to wait to dive into their candy, it is best to check sweets for signs of tampering before children are allowed to eat them,” says Sage. “Remind children to only eat treats in original and unopened wrappers.”
- Children under 12 should only trick-or-treat and cross streets with an adult.
- Always walk on sidewalks or paths. If there are no sidewalks, walk facing traffic as far to the left as possible.
- Cross the street at corners, using traffic signals and crosswalks. Parents should remind children to watch for cars that are turning or backing up.
- Look left, right and left again when crossing and keep looking as you cross. Walk don’t run, across the street.
- Slow down and be especially alert in residential neighborhoods. Children are excited on Halloween and may move in unpredictable ways.
- Anticipate heavy pedestrian traffic and turn your headlights on earlier in the day so you can spot children from greater distances.
- Remember that costumes can limit children’s visibility and they may not be able to see your vehicle.
- Reduce any distractions inside your car so you can concentrate on the road and your surroundings.
Costumes and Treats
- Decorate costumes and bags with reflective tape or stickers and choose light colored costumes to improve visibility.
- Choose face paint and make-up instead of masks, which can obstruct a child’s vision. Look for non-toxic designations when choosing Halloween makeup.
- Avoid carrying sticks, swords, or other sharp objects.
- Have kids carry glow sticks or flashlights in order to see better, as well as to be seen by drivers. Liquid in glow sticks is hazardous, so parents should remind children not to chew on or break them.
- Check treats for signs of tampering before children are allowed to eat them. Candy should be thrown away if the wrapper is faded or torn, or if the candy is unwrapped.