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.

Kids will be out after dark on Halloween for trick-or-treating – and it’s up to everyone to help keep them safe.

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:

Young children should be accompanied by an adult during trick-or-treat. If you let older kids go it alone, make sure you lay down some rules first.

  • 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.

When trick-or-treating, only go to houses where the lights are on. Stick to familiar neighborhoods.

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.

Regional One Health reminds everyone to play it safe this Halloween and Harvest holiday. To support our team’s efforts in protecting the community, visit regionalonehealth.org/foundation.