In just a few days, little ghosts and goblins across North Alabama will hit the streets in search of Halloween candy. In their excitement, young children sometimes forget to look both ways before entering the road. Others wear dark costumes that don’t reflect car headlights, or masks that obstruct their vision. It’s a dangerous combination: Kids are more than twice as likely to be run over and killed on Halloween than any other night of the year.
Even so, surveys have found that only 1/3 of parents talk to their children annually about Halloween safety while just 18 percent use reflective tape on costumes.
With that in mind, here are some tips from Safe Kids Worldwide to help keep your trick-or-treater out of danger this Halloween:
- Cross the street only at corners using crosswalks and traffic signals;
- Look left, right and left again before entering the street, and keep watching for traffic as you cross;
- Never use a smartphone or other electronic device while crossing the street;
- Teach your child to make eye contact with drivers before they walk in front of a vehicle;
- Tell your child to never dart into the street or enter the road between parked cars;
- An adult should always accompany children under 12, especially at night. Older kids should stick to familiar, well-lit areas and trick-or-treat in groups;
- Add reflective tape to costumes as well as candy bags;
- Choose light-colored costumes that are easier for drivers to see;
- Try face paint rather than a mask that can obstruct your child’s vision;
- Have kids carry glow sticks or flashlights to help them be seen by drivers;
- When choosing a costume, make sure it fits your child properly to prevent accidental falls.
Drivers also need to do their part to ensure a safe Halloween in the Huntsville area. If you’re going to be behind the wheel the night of Oct. 31, drive a bit slower than usual and stay alert for trick-or-treaters -- especially in residential areas and at intersections.
Phones are a major distraction while driving. Put yours down so you can concentrate on any pedestrians in the road, and flip on the headlights before dusk so you can spot children from greater distances.
Have fun out there, but be safe!
Ellen Harris, RN, has worked in various roles at Huntsville Hospital for Women & Children for 37 years and currently serves as the coordinator of Safe Kids/Huntsville, a partnership between Huntsville Hospital and Safe Kids Worldwide.