Children across America are begging their parents for the latest Trick or Treat costume in preparation for the annual Halloween event. While it’s easy to get caught up in the fun, it’s even more important to spend a little time talking with your children about safe trick or treating during this particularly dangerous time of the year.
Safe Kids has conducted its first-ever and first-of-its-kind survey on Halloween safety, conducted by Harris Interactive. The survey showed that only one-third of parents talk to their children each year about how to stay safe on Halloween.
Since, on average, twice as many children are killed while walking the streets on Halloween as compared with any other day of the year, Safe Kids strongly recommends that parents talk with their children about safe behavior and drivers take extra precautions to watch out for kids trick or treating.
The study also found that 40 percent of parents allow their trick or treating children to use one or more unsafe item on Halloween. These include masks, loose fitting clothing, and/or a sharp object, all of which could contribute to burns, falls or pedestrian injuries.
Another key finding, and one that should stand out for all parents, is that 12 percent of children aged five years and younger are permitted to go out on Halloween by themselves. Not only should these younger children be accompanied by an adult, but Safe Kids recommends that an adult accompany any child under 12.
There’s a good reason for this recommendation. Children under 12 may lack the maturity and cognitive ability to accurately judge speeds and distance of vehicles on the streets and to make appropriate decisions about crossing streets or jaywalking or darting into the street from between parked cars.
Even if your children are old enough to go out by themselves on Halloween, it’s better to have them travel in groups and to stick to a predetermined route that’s well-lit.
Tips for parents and children on Halloween
- Children under 12 should trick-or-treat and cross streets with an adult.
- Always walk on sidewalks or paths. If there are no sidewalks, always walk facing traffic and as far to the left as possible. Better yet, choose a route that does have sidewalks.
- Cross the street at corners, using traffic signals and designated crosswalks. Parents, remind children to look for cars that are making a turn or backing up.
- Remind children to look left and right, and then left again, before crossing and keep looking while they cross. Walk, don’t run, across streets.
Safe driving tips on Halloween
- Slow down, especially in residential areas. Keep in mind that children move in unpredictable patterns and may appear in your route of travel unexpectedly.
- Turn on your headlights earlier, as children often begin trick-or-treating while it’s still daylight. With your headlights on, you’ll be able to spot children quicker. Anticipate heavy pedestrian traffic.
- Remember that children’s costumes may limit their visibility, preventing them from seeing your vehicle.
- Be especially cautious about driver distractions on Halloween. No texting or using the cell phone, no eating or drinking in the car, no fiddling with the radio or reaching for items in the back seat or on the floor.
Bottom line: Make this Halloween a safe and happy one for all concerned, especially our most precious cargo, our children.