Safety first: Tips for trick-or-treaters on Halloween
The magic and trickery of Halloween is a childhood favorite and evokes nostalgia in parents. From the spine-chilling decorations to the creepy costumes, October 31 is a night full of fright. However, for parents of young children, what’s even scarier is worrying about the safety of your children while they are out trick-or-treating.
According to the National Safety Council, children are more than twice as likely to be killed by a car while walking on Halloween night than at any other time of the year. As children take to the streets this Halloween, it’s important for both parents and drivers to be aware of how best to keep our most vulnerable population safe.
But Halloween pedestrian crashes aren’t the only thing haunting the night. Instead of making Halloween the stuff of nightmares, make happy memories by recognizing the dangers your children face.
- In 2017, with 3,700 deaths, October was second to July for the highest number of vehicle fatalities by month.
- Between 2013-2017, 42% of those killed in traffic crashes involved at least one drunk driver.
- Pedestrian accidents involving children tend to occur during trick-or-treat hours (5:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m.)
- Over 70% of Halloween pedestrian accidents occur away from an intersection or crosswalk.
- Children between the ages of 12-15 account for nearly one-third of all pedestrian fatalities on Halloween.
- Drivers between the ages of 15-25 are the most likely age group to be involved in a Halloween traffic accident with a pedestrian.
Guarantee Your Ghosts and Goblins Are Safe
As a parent or guardian of children who will be trick-or-treating this year, there are a few helpful hints to follow to ensure that your children have a hazard-free Halloween. Children are at a greater risk of injury of being hit by a car because they are often so excited for the night that they forget their basic safety rules. In addition, children:
- Are smaller than adults and therefore less visible to drivers
- Have trouble judging distances and speeds
- Have very little to no experience with traffic rules
Trick-or-treating doesn’t have to be risky. By following a few safety tips, you can keep your child safe from child injuries.
Kids under 12 should always go trick-or-treating with an adult
For more than just visibility purposes, children under the age of 12 should not be alone at night without adult supervision. However, even children over the age of 12 may not the maturity to trick-or-treat without supervision. If you believe your child is mature to trick-or-treat without an adult this year, remind them to stick with their trick-or-treat group and stay in areas that are familiar and well lit.
Use flashlights, glow sticks and reflective treat-bags
Ensure your child’s safety by using glow sticks, flashlights or reflective gear on treat bags or costumes to ensure that drivers can see them.
Stay on the sidewalk and off the road
It goes without saying that most accidents do not occur on sidewalks or in crosswalks. Only cross the street at a designated crosswalk.
Instruct your children to trick-or-treat on one side of the road at a time
Don’t bounce from one side of the street to the other. Cars driving through neighborhoods don’t typically expect pedestrians to step out into the middle of street halfway down a street. It’s best to plan out a route ahead of time, ensuring that you’re only crossing at corners and street walks. Stick to that route.
Wear costumes that don’t obstruct your child’s vision
Face paint is always a better option than a mask. This is because masks may restrict your child’s hearing or vision while crossing the street.
Put the Devices Down
While walking, parents and their children should put the devices down. Cellphones are great and are an excellent way for your older child to contact you and vice versa while they are out trick or treating, however, cell phones play a part in pedestrian errors just like it does in driver error. Encourage your child to always be aware of his or her surroundings.
Driver responsibility is just as important as reminding parents and children to keep themselves safe on Halloween night. As children take to the streets for trick-or-treating, their risk of being injured by motorists significantly increases.
Halloween is considered one of several party nights. If you are drinking, don’t even think about driving. In addition, popular trick-or-treating hours are from 5:30 to 9:30. However, this ultimately depends on the area where you live. Check your local paper for your areas specific times and use the information to remain alert during those hours. Drivers should always:
- Watch out for kids crossing mid-block
- Slow down
- Be alert
- Put devices down
Urban Legend vs. Common Sense
Halloween is no stranger to urban legends. While news reports may scare parents into believing that the world is out to trick their kiddos by giving them THC-infused gummies, parents usually don’t have much to worry about. Still, parents should be mindful of the dangers we often give very little thought to.
Costumes can cause a number of troubles for unsuspecting parents and children. To avoid last-minute costume adjustments, in the weeks leading up to Halloween, parents should ensure that their children’s costumes are:
- Fire-resistant. Polyester and nylon are both flame-resistant materials. When searching for a costume or wig for your child, always look for the “flame-resistant” label.
- An appropriate length. Falls are the leading cause of non-fatal injuries for children ages 0 to 19. A child could easily trip over a long costume and break a bone. Ensure your child’s costume is the right length. Longer costumes have a higher risk of catching a flame on tealights in jack-o-lanterns.
- Non-toxic. Use non-toxic makeup on your child and always test a small area first. In addition, make sure you remove all makeup before children go to bed to prevent skin and eye irritation.
- Visibility. All black or dark-colored costumes are hard for drivers to see and can easily be lost in a crowd. Reflective tape and glowsticks
- Non-restrictive. A child should be able to move freely while in their costumes. The costume should not restrict a child’s movement. Additionally, masks should not restrict vision or the ability to breathe. Face paint is a safe alternative to wearing masks.
Stranger Danger Still Counts on Halloween
Remind your children to never go into a stranger’s home or car. In addition, your children should only travel in familiar, well-lit areas and stick with their friends.
Wait to eat Goodies
Your children should wait to get home before eating their candy. This may seem like an outdated idea, but there really are reasons to check your child’s candy. Young children may have choking hazards in their bags. Hand made treats or treats that are not in commercial packaging should be immediately discarded.
Parents should also inspect children’s treats for any signs of tampering such as tears in wrapping and any unusual appearance or discoloration. Additionally, parents should check their child’s bags for candy that might cause an allergic reaction.
Teen drinking on Halloween Night
So much of Halloween safety concerns young kids going door-to-door for candy. However, teens are just as capable of being injured on Halloween night. For teens, Halloween means a night of costume parties and free booze. In fact, Halloween is largely considered by many teens and young adults as one of the biggest drinking days of the year. From parent-sanctioned costume parties to middle of nowhere parties, underage drinking is prevalent on Halloween night.
While nearly 60% of American youths age 15-20 years of age imbibe, there is no such thing as underage drinking in a safe environment. Alcohol and the developing, impulsive teen mind don’t mix. In fact, alcohol puts teens at a greater risk of causing or experiencing severe injuries. For example, alcohol abuse can make perpetrators more likely to commit sexual assault and abuse.
While many parents may be OK with their underage child drinking, it is important to remember that you are not the decider for other people’s children. In the event a tragedy strikes, such as a drunk driving crash, rape or alcohol poisoning, you can be held liable for providing booze to minors.
How The Carlson Law Firm Can Help
Here at The Carlson Law Firm, we are strong proponents of child safety—particularly child pedestrian safety. All too often we see children who are injured because of negligent drivers. We urge you to make sure your child is as safe as possible on Halloween so that everyone can enjoy the holiday the way it is meant to be enjoyed.
If you, or someone you love, have been injured in a pedestrian accident, contact The Carlson Law Firm right away for a free, no-obligation, initial consultation.
- Written by Ellen Witherspoon