Don’t worry about ghosts: car accidents are the real danger on Halloween.
For decades, researchers have found that Halloween has the highest number of child pedestrian deaths compared to any other day during the year. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found that from 1975 to 1996, the number of childhood pedestrian deaths quadrupled on Halloween night.
The numbers have gotten better in more recent years, but not by much: a new study of federal data from 1990 to 2010 showed that childhood pedestrian deaths more than doubled on Halloween compared to other nights during the year, according to USA Today.
It’s important to stress that “children” in these studies refer to anyone age 18 and under. On Halloween, many families make the distinction between their teenage children and younger children, believing teenagers to not be in as much danger as little ones. However, the 1990-2010 research shows that children most often killed are between 12 and 18 years old.
With such grim statistics, many parents worry about sending their children out on Halloween. However, there’s no need to keep the kids inside. Following these six safety tips can help increase the chances that everyone makes it home safe tomorrow.
1. Make Halloween a Family Event
Did you know that 12 percent of children age five and under are allowed to trick-or-treat alone? Five is far too young of an age to trick-or-treat without an adult present. Typically, children 12 and under should only trick-or-treat with an adult.
By going with your children while they trick-or-treat, you’ll be able to make sure they stay safe and avoid any vehicles that might pass by. If you have children over 12 who want to go out without you, agree upon a safe, well-lit path for them to stick to, and determine when they have to be home before they go.
2. Make Sure Costumes Fit
Many parents underestimate just how important it is that costumes fit their children. Hand-me-down costumes make their way through plenty of children in order for families to save money. However, ill-fitting costumes present real hazards for children. Costumes that are too long or too big are easy to trip over. A child could easily trip over their costume into the road. If your child is wearing a hand-me-down this year, make sure it’s been altered to fit them. Also, be sure to check that your child can see out of any mask they’re wearing so they don’t accidentally wander into the road.
3. Use Reflective Tape and Bright Colors on Costumes
Part of the danger in Halloween is the lack of visibility. Children are out after dark, and although plenty of children choose brightly colored princess or superhero costumes, many still opt for darker, more ghoulish costumes like witches and zombies.
You can make your children more visible to passersby by simply putting reflective tape on the backs of their costumes and/or on their candy bags. This extra precaution won’t ruin your pictures from the night, but it will hopefully make your children visible to any approaching vehicles.
4. Trick-or-Treat Early If You Can During Designated Hours
Many trick-or-treat festivities begin after sunset, but more and more neighborhoods are starting festivities early. Earlier trick-or-treating keeps kids visible in the setting sunlight and keeps younger children from missing their bedtime.
It’s still a good idea to trick-or-treat during designated hours within an established complex or neighborhood, even if your festivities start later. Your neighbors will expect trick-or-treaters at certain times and will hopefully drive more carefully if they choose to hit the road. Try to make sure your family is home by the end of the designated trick-or-treat hours.
5. Bring Flashlights
If it’s dark while you’re trick-or-treating, be sure to bring flashlights. For your children, consider giving them glow bracelets or glow sticks as a fun way to increase their visibility.
If you decide to use the flashlight on your smartphone, be sure to charge it before leaving the house. It’s a good idea to have a fully charged cell phone on you regardless of whether or not you have a flashlight so you can call for help in case of emergency.
6. Walk on Sidewalks Where Possible
This won’t always be possible, but if there are sidewalks where you’re trick-or-treating, use them. Stay off of the road to decrease the chance of getting hit by a car. If there are no sidewalks, make sure your family is walking against oncoming traffic (typically on the left side of the road in the United States).
With these tips, we wish you and your family a safe and happy Halloween!