Halloween frights are meant to be fun and fictional, not tragic and real.
But with large numbers of kids taking to dark streets for trick-or-treating, it’s all too easy for something to go wrong.
Pamela Finnie, Trauma Program Manager for Regional One Health’s Elvis Presley Trauma Center, said several factors play a role:
- The sheer number of kids out and about
- Lack of visibility at night
- Distracted drivers
- Costumes that make it hard for kids to see and walk
“It only takes a second for a tragedy to occur, and there’s plenty of opportunity for bad things to happen on Halloween,” Finnie said. “The good news is, with a little common sense and patience, we can all do our part to make the holiday safe and fun for everybody.”
A startling statistic from the National Safety Council indicates the concern is real: kids are more than twice as likely to be struck and killed by a car on Halloween than any other day all year.
With that in mind, Finnie offered some tips everyone can follow to make sure trick-or-treating goes off without a hitch. “Remember, Halloween only happens one night a year,” she said. “Be vigilant and courteous whether you’re behind the wheel or out trick-or-treating. Public safety is everyone’s responsibility, and it takes so little to do your part.”
Before the kids head out the door, make sure their costumes don’t contribute to safety woes:
- Costumes, wigs and accessories should be fire-resistant.
- Don’t use masks that obstruct vision.
- Fasten reflective tape to kids’ costumes and treat bags, or give them glow sticks or flashlights.
- Make sure costumes don’t pose a tripping hazard.
During trick-or-treating, play it safe with age-appropriate guidelines:
- Young kids should be accompanied by a responsible adult.
- If older kids trick-or-treat alone, plan a route ahead of time that you’re OK with. Agree on a reasonable time to return home.
- Only trick-or-treat in familiar, well-lit areas.
- If your kids are going out without you, make sure they stay in a group and never enter a stranger’s home or car.
- Put your electronic devices down and keep your heads up as you walk.
- Don’t run between houses or dart across streets. Look both ways, and use a crosswalk if possible.
- Stick to sidewalks. If there is no sidewalk, walk on the far edge of the road facing traffic.
If you’re driving during trick-or-treating hours, practice situational awareness.
- Be extra alert for kids walking on roads, medians, curbs and sidewalks.
- Take additional care when entering and exiting driveways or alleys.
- Be aware that kids may be hard to see if they’re wearing dark clothing.
- If you’re a new or inexperienced driver, avoid getting behind the wheel.
- Don’t drive distracted. Put your cell phone down.
- If you’re planning to drink alcohol as part of your Halloween celebration, do not drive.
- Assign a designated driver or use a ride service or taxi.