In addition to candy and costumes, safety prep needs to be on everyone’s Halloween to-do list. Children are more than twice as likely to be hit by a car and significantly injured on Halloween than any other day of the year – but planning ahead can help reduce this safety risk. Below are some things parents/caregivers should do before kids head out trick-or-treating to help ensure they’re as safe as possible.
Make sure children are visible to drivers
Being easily seen is important and adding items that increase a child’s visibility to drivers can be part of the costume fun.
Decorate the back and front of costumes with reflective tape, stickers or bracelets to ensure they’re easy to see. For Wonder Woman, pictured above, adding reflective tape outlining her cape, belt and headband would enhance her powerful look. For the mummy, pictured to the right, reflective tape could replace some fabric-strip layers in the costume for scary-but-safer fun. Reflective tape can also be used on the back and front of shoes and reflective bracelets worn around wrists, arms, legs or ankles.
Add light-up items to costumes as part of the theme. Light-up wands, glowing light sabers and flashlights tie in well with many popular costume themes, as do glow bracelets, glow necklaces and hanging glow sticks. Some of these items can be sewn or tied into costume pieces for added dramatic effect such as an astronaut with blinking lights or a princess with light-up jewelry. Tape and glow items can also be used to decorate Halloween buckets or bags.
Safe Kids Worldwide’s Light Up Halloween video shows several light-up costume ideas:
Do test runs
The excitement Halloween night brings can be distracting and today’s children are already less experienced in safe pedestrian practices as fewer walk to school. It’s a scary combination that significantly increases pedestrian safety risks. Providing guidance in correct walking behaviors before they head out is key. Here are some things you can do in this regard and developmental information to keep in mind:
Set aside time to walk around together before Halloween night so you can go over correct pedestrian behaviors. Review things like the safest side of the street to walk on and the importance of looking “left, right, left” and making eye contact with drivers.
Talk about the different traffic signs and what they mean and show children the crosswalks they should use instead of crossing mid-street. Lessons like these are important to reinforce – especially in your own neighborhood – and are good safety reminders for the whole year through. Safe Kids Worldwide’s Pedestrian Safety checklist outlines helpful points to review.
Children’s brains don’t develop enough to safely navigate traffic until approximately age 10. At this age they’re better able to assess dangers and vehicle speeds, choose the correct walking path, and make other safe decisions. However, do not just assume because a child is 10 years old that they’re able to be a safe walker. We encourage parents and caregivers to walk with children to ensure they can demonstrate safe walking behaviors. And for Halloween night in particular, stick to this Safe Kids’ recommendation: Children under the age of 12 should not be alone at night without adult supervision. If kids are mature enough to be out without supervision, they should stick to familiar areas that are well lit and trick-or-treat in groups.
By Corri Miller-Hobbs, registered nurse and Safe Kids Virginia program coordinator