On a potentially dangerous night of the year for child pedestrians, the Suncoast Safe Kids Coalition at All Children's Hospital urges parents to prepare children to act safely and motorists to take extra precautions. On average, twice as many kids are killed while walking on Halloween compared to other days of the year.
"Kids need proper safety instruction before they go out trick-or-treating," says Safe Kids Coordinator Jean Shoemaker of All Children's Hospital. "Many kids will be out trick-or-treating while it is dark and thus more difficult for drivers to see them. There are several simple and effective behaviors that parents can share with kids to help reduce their risk or injury. For example, children younger than age 10 should not be alone crossing streets on this night without an adult. If older kids are mature enough to go trick-or-treating without adult supervision, parents should make sure they go in a group and stick to a predetermined route with good lighting."
Drivers need to be extra alert as there will be more children on the streets. Motorists are urged to slow down on neighborhood roads to make Halloween more enjoyable for everyone, but also to help save lives.
Top safety tips Safe Kids recommends for parents:
- Cross the street safely at corners, using traffic signals and crosswalks. Look left, right and left again when crossing and keep looking as you cross.
- Walk on sidewalks or paths. If there are no sidewalks, walk facing traffic as far to the left as possible.
- Slow down and stay alert!
- Costumes can be both creative and safe. Decorate costumes and bags with reflective tape or stickers and, if possible, choose light colors. Masks can obstruct a child's vision, so choose non-toxic face paint and make-up whenever possible instead. Have kids carry glow sticks or flashlights in order to see better, as well as be seen by drivers.
Top safety tips Safe Kids recommends for drivers:
- Slow down in residential neighborhoods and school zones. Remember that popular trick-or-treating hours are 5:30 to 9:30 p.m.
- Be especially alert and take extra time to look for kids at intersections, on medians and on curbs.
- Slowly and carefully enter and exit driveways and alleys.
While pedestrian safety is a main concern on Halloween, parents and kids should also be careful when dealing with candy. "While kids never want to wait to dive into their candy, it is best to check sweets for signs of tampering before children are allowed to eat them," says Dr. Joseph Perno, All Children’s Hospital trauma physician. “Remind children to only eat treats in original and unopened wrappers."
- Reduce any distractions inside your car, such as talking on the phone or eating, so you can concentrate on the road and your surroundings.