Keeping the scariness imaginary
Twice as many children killed by cars on Halloween as on any other night. How to safely enjoy the frights of the night.October 29, 2018
There’s nothing like a good scare on Halloween.
One of the most frightening things about the spooky tradition has little to do with ghastly ghosts and goblins, rather it’s this shocking statistic: Twice as many children are killed while walking on Halloween than on any other day of the year, according to Safe Kids Worldwide, a nonprofit organization working to help families and communities keep kids safe from injuries.
“On Halloween, more children are out on the street after dark than normal, and drivers are not always paying attention.”
“On Halloween, more children are out on the street after dark than normal, and drivers are not always paying attention,” said Purnima Unni, MPH, Pediatric Trauma Injury Prevention Manager at Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt. “The excitement of the night can get the better of kids and they may run out into the street.
“Oversized costumes could also be the culprit where they trip and fall,” added Unni. “Children might be wearing masks that make it difficult for them to see while walking or they can trip on loose costumes.”
According to Adam Vukovic, MD, M.Ed, assistant professor of Clinical Pediatrics at Children’s Hospital, his medical team will be prepared.
“It’s not unreasonable that we will see fall- and trauma-related injuries,” said Vukovic. “With an increased number of children out walking in the streets at a time when visibility is lower, that combination puts children at an elevated risk of being struck by a vehicle.
“Ultimately, it’s about awareness and making sure parents are mindful of where their children are.”
Vukovic and Unni agree that as trick-or-treaters move from house to house it’s imperative that everyone take precautionary measures for safety, including talking with children about being aware of cars and their surroundings.
“There is also the potential for burns from candlelit decorations,” added Vukovic. “With capes and flowy costumes, it’s something to be on the lookout for. There is so much excitement that oftentimes this is overlooked.”
As children prepare for October’s fun-filled night of trick-or-treating, experts suggest the following tips:
- Place reflective material on costumes or trick-or-treat bags to increase visibility to drivers or provide glow sticks or flashlights to children.
- Keep costumes safe. If possible make costumes light in color and make sure it is the right size to prevent falls and slips.
- Masks can obstruct vision. Choose a nontoxic face paint or makeup if possible
- Walk safely by crossing streets at corners and using traffic signals and crosswalks. Always look left, right and left again when crossing and make sure to make eye contact with the driver before you cross in front of a car.
- Put down electronic devices and keep your head up. Walk, don’t run, across the street.
- Walk on sidewalks or paths. If there are no sidewalks, walk facing traffic and as far left as possible.
- Slow down and stay alert. Watch out for cars that are turning or backing up. Don’t dart out into the street or cross between parked cars.
- A responsible adult should accompany young children on the neighborhood rounds.
- If your older children are going alone, plan and review a route acceptable to you.
- Agree on a specific time that children should return home.
- Teach your children never to enter a stranger’s home or car.
- Instruct children to travel only in familiar, well-lit areas and stick with their friends.
- Tell your children not to eat any treats until they return home.
Tips for drivers:
- Slow down in residential neighborhoods, particularly during peak trick-or-treating hours from 5:30 to 9:30 p.m.
- Be alert. Take extra time to look for children at intersections, on curbs and on medians.
- Reduce any distractions inside your car including talking on the phone or eating to help you concentrate on the road and your surroundings.
- Discourage new, inexperienced drivers from driving on Halloween.
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