Before we know it, we’ll being seeing children dressed up as fairies, goblins, and a host of other characters. As Halloween grows closer, we need to plan ahead to help keep our children safe while trick-or-treating, whether in the neighborhood, a mall, or at another location.
Children are four times more likely to be hit and killed by a car on October 31 than on any other night, especially if they are out at the time when adults are driving home from work. Therefore, following safety rules when trick-or-treating in a neighborhood is especially important. The following tips can be used to keep your kids safe on the streets.
• Children under the age of 12 should be accompanied by adults on their walk. Children ages 12 and older should trick-or-treat in groups or with a friend.
• Use flashlights, glow sticks, or retro-reflective stickers or tape so that drivers can better see children.
• Trick-or-treat on residential side streets and away from busy roads. Visit only those homes where you know the residents or the neighborhood.
• Choose locations that have sidewalks or paths. If sidewalks are not available, walk facing traffic and stay as far to the right as possible.
• When crossing streets, do so only at corners or crosswalks, and never between parked cars. Stop; look left, right, then left again before crossing.
• Always make sure children walk, not run, as they go.
• Have children walk only on driveways and walkways when possible to keep from tripping on hidden objects or holes in yards and lawns.
• Before crossing a road, make eye contact with drivers and keep an eye out for vehicles that are backing up or turning.
Safety with Costumes
• Look for costumes, masks, beards, wigs and other accessories labeled “flame resistant” or “flame retardant”. These labels indicate that items will resist burning and should extinguish quickly. They do not mean that the items won’t catch fire.
• Choose costumes that fit well and fairly snug and that have sleeves that don’t hang too low to avoid tripping and fire hazards. Costumes that are too long can be hemmed, or belts can be used to hold them up.
• Make sure masks fit securely and have eyeholes large enough to allow full vision. Hats and scarves should be tied well enough to prevent them from slipping over children’s eyes. Consider face makeup as an alternative to masks.
• Props and accessories should be made of soft, flexible materials and should have blunt edges to protect against injuries.
• Well fitting, sturdy shoes should be worn when possible. Shoe with laces should be securely tied. Overly large or floppy shoes, which can pose a tripping hazard, should be avoided.
• Remind children that they are not to eat any of the snacks they receive while out trick-or-treating before you have a chance to inspect the goodies. Provide children with a snack or light meal before they go out to avoid the temptation.
• Tell children not to accept — and especially not to eat — anything that is not commercially wrapped. If you are at a function with friends or family members, this rule can be relaxed… but only with your approval.
• Once children arrive home, inspect items they have received. Discard any homemade candy or baked goods (unless made by someone you know and trust). Also, parents should remove any items that may pose a choking hazard for young children, such as gum, peanuts, hard candies or small toys.
• Wash any fruit that is received thoroughly and inspect for holes – including small punctures. Cut fruit open before allowing children to eat it.
• Inspect commercially wrapped treats for signs of tampering. Signs could include an unusual appearance or discoloration, tiny pinholes, or tears in wrappers. Throw away any items that look suspicious.
With just a little pre-planning, families can enjoy the festivities of the fall season, and can keep their children safe.