Heather Trnka’s No. 1 Halloween safety tip is aimed at trick-or-treaters and drivers alike.
With neighborhoods filled with kids and cars, Halloween carries an especially high risk of injury.
“Halloween is the most deadly day of the year for pedestrians ages 18 and younger,” said Heather, Injury Prevention Coalition supervisor for Akron Children’s Hospital. “Children are so excited on Halloween, and they move in unpredictable ways. They are running around and often dart into the street.”
To keep kids safe, teach them to cross only at street corners, after stopping to make sure no cars are coming. Even if a car stops at a stop sign, kids should make eye contact with the driver before crossing, Heather said.
“Also, remind teen drivers to be extra cautious,” Heather said. “Go slow. Turn on headlights earlier than normal. Make sure there are no distractions. Back out of driveways more slowly than normal and be very, very aware there may be kids darting into the street.”
Car backup cameras and alarms are great, but they aren’t going to give you enough time to react to a child darting behind your car.
Other tips from Heather:
- Halloween masks obscure peripheral vision – especially hoodie masks that zip over the face. Masks are not a good choice for kids walking around in the dark. Face paint is a safer choice.
- If trick-or-treating in an area without sidewalks, walk on the edge of the road facing traffic – and use a flashlight. All kids or their parents should have a flashlight. Glow sticks are also great.
- Kids under 12 should not trick or treat without parental supervision. Kids who are old enough should trick or treat in groups and stay in familiar, well-lit areas.
“Be extra cautious if your kids are out on their own for the first time. These are the kids getting hit by cars, when there is no adult to tell them not to cross the street in the middle of the block,” Heather said.
Here are some additional tips from the American Academy of Pediatrics:
- Plan costumes that are bright and reflective. Make sure that shoes fit well and that costumes are short enough to prevent tripping, entanglement or contact with flame.
- Consider adding reflective tape or striping to costumes and trick-or-treat bags for greater visibility.
- When shopping for costumes, wigs and accessories, look for and purchase those with a label clearly indicating they are flame resistant.
- If a sword, cane or stick is a part of your child’s costume, make sure it is not sharp or long. A child can be easily hurt by these accessories if he or she stumbles or trips.
- Do not use decorative contact lenses without an eye examination and a prescription from an eye care professional. While the packaging on decorative lenses will often make claims such as “one size fits all,” or “no need to see an eye specialist,” obtaining decorative contact lenses without a prescription is both dangerous and illegal. This can cause pain, inflammation and serious eye disorders and infections, which may lead to permanent vision loss.
- Review with children how to call 911 (or their local emergency number) if they ever have an emergency or become lost.
- A good meal prior to parties and trick-or-treating will discourage youngsters from filling up on Halloween treats.
- Consider purchasing non-food treats for those who visit your home, such as coloring books or pens and pencils.
- Wait until children are home to sort and check treats. Though tampering is rare, a responsible adult should closely examine all treats and throw away any spoiled, unwrapped or suspicious items.
- Try to ration treats for the days and weeks following Halloween.