Halloween is an exciting night for children, as many plan for weeks what their costumes will be and then go out in the dark to navigate neighborhood streets in search of treats. But when so many children are near cars in the dark, it puts trick-or-treaters at a higher risk of injury or death.
According to Safe Kids Worldwide, twice as many children are killed on average while walking on Halloween compared to other days of the year. This year, there are likely to be more trick-or-treaters out late since Halloween falls on a Saturday.
“Parents should talk with their children, no matter what age, about how to get around the neighborhood safely,” said Sheila Robertson, pediatric injury coordinator for University of Missouri Children’s Hospital and Safe Kids Columbia. “Children should not be out alone or crossing streets without adult supervision, but they also need to learn pedestrian safety to help better protect themselves.”
Here are some pedestrian safety tips parents should discuss with their children:
· Always use a sidewalk when available.
· If there are no sidewalks, walk as far to the left of the street as possible, facing traffic so you can see oncoming cars.
· When crossing the street, look both ways and continue to look from side to side while crossing.
· Use intersections when possible to cross streets.
· Do not dart out onto a street from behind parked cars.
“Children become excited at the thought of the next house or treat,” said Kassie Campbell, R.N., trauma outreach coordinator for University Hospital’s Frank L. Mitchell Jr., MD, Trauma Center. “In doing so, they often lose focus. Always being alert and moving in groups rather than as individuals can make the difference between a fun holiday and a nightmare.”
Campbell points out that pedestrian safety also is the responsibility of drivers. Driving slowly on neighborhood streets gives drivers more time to stop and avoid pedestrians. On nights like Halloween when many children will be out, drivers should take extra time to look for kids at intersections, on curbs and in driveways.
Trick-or-treaters also should decorate costumes and candy bags with reflective tape or stickers, pick light-colored costumes when possible and avoid masks that obstruct the child’s vision.