Kids of all ages love Halloween — after all, who doesn’t want to dress up in a spooky costume and snag free candy? But for moms and dads who want to ensure a safe holiday, Halloween hazards seem to be lurking around every corner. Don’t get caught up in urban legends and sensationalized stories about sharp objects buried in candy or criminals roaming among the masked masses. The real danger on Halloween is motor vehicle accidents involving young pedestrians.
According to Safekids.org, children are more than twice as likely to be hit by a car on Halloween than on any other day of the year. That’s a scary statistic, but parents can proactively prep their little ghosts and goblins to practice pedestrian safety on Halloween night. Take action with these tips.
1. Make a plan for trick-or-treating.
Halloween can pose logistical problems for parents with young children — you need to dole out treats and escort your kids as they canvass the neighborhood for candy. It can be tempting to send kids out to trick-or-treat on their own, but if your children are under 12, an adult should always accompany them.
Need a solution if mom and dad can’t divide and conquer? Hire a sitter to pass out candy or find a trusted neighborhood parent who is willing to supervise a group of trick-or-treaters. For kids over 12 who are responsible enough to trick-or-treat without an adult chaperone, it’s important that they travel in a group and stick to familiar, well-lit area. Parents: Plan in advance with your kids, define trick-or-treat boundaries, and set expectations about curfew, behavior and safety.
2. Brush up on street smarts.
The excitement of Halloween, combined with the inevitable sugar rush, can make even the most cautious kid forget to look both ways before crossing the street. Whether you’re accompanying your kids or they are old enough to trick-or-treat sans mom and dad, parents need to review safety skills before allowing their costumed kiddos to head out for the night. Teach your children to make eye contact with drivers before crossing the street in front of cars, and remind kids to stay on sidewalks and paths, follow all traffic laws, cross at designated cross walks and obey pedestrian signals at traffic lights. And remember: Drivers aren’t the only ones who can be distracted by text messages and email alerts — pedestrians should also keep phone usage to a minimum in order to stay alert and aware of their surroundings.
3. Prevent costume catastrophes.
Minor bumps and bruises as well as more serious falls can be avoided with a little bit of costume common sense. All children’s costumes should be flame retardant and fit properly — hem princess gowns and pirate pants so that they don’t become trip hazards. Choose accessories that don’t obstruct your child’s vision and consider swapping the superhero mask for non-toxic face paint. Fancy or oversized shoes can also cause tumbles; your child should wear comfortable sneakers instead. Finally, props — like wands or toy swords — should be soft and pliable in order to avoid unintended pokes and scratches. If you’re looking for a photo op with your child in full Halloween gear, get the picture before trick-or-treating begins, then leave the less practical costume pieces at home.
4. Make sure your child is visible to drivers.
Not only do kids need to follow traffic rules and practice pedestrian safety, they need to be easily seen by drivers on Halloween night. The best way to do this? Even though your ninja might be disappointed, discourage dark colors and use reflective tape on bags and costumes. For added visibility, have your child carry a flashlight.
5. Check your kid’s candy.
While cases of Halloween treats that have been tampered with are rare, it doesn’t hurt to be cautious when it comes to the candy. A light, healthy dinner before trick-or-treating will dissuade kids from snacking while out, which will give you a chance to inspect their loot before they dive into it. Discard candy that has tears or holes in the wrappers or other signs of damage, like discoloration. Pass on homemade treats, toss candy that could be a choking hazard if you have young children, and check all labels if your child has a food allergy. Bonus: This is an opportune time to snag a few sweet treats for yourself.