Press release from Safe Kids in Allen County:
On a night of fun and frights, pedestrian safety should be the primary focus
This Halloween – drivers, parents and children should slow down for safety
On a night when many children spend hours in close proximity to cars as they navigate through neighborhoods gathering candy, pedestrian safety should be a top priority for both drivers and parents. On average, twice as many kids are killed while walking on Halloween compared to other days of the year.
Even with designated times to trick-or-treat, many kids will still be out while it is dark – making it harder for drivers to see them. This lack of visibility makes it important for drivers to slow down and watch out for trick-or-treaters, especially around crosswalks. Pedestrian safety is not just the responsibility of the driver, however, parents can do their part to help kids stay out of the emergency room on Halloween by emphasizing safe pedestrian behaviors before they head out.
“The simple act of slowing down on neighborhood roads will not only make the tricks and treats of Halloween more enjoyable for everyone, but also it could save lives,” said David Smith, MD, trauma medical director for Lutheran Hospital’s Level II Pediatric Trauma Center. “Children younger than age 12 should not be alone crossing streets at 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.”
Halloween is an exciting holiday for children, but they can be vulnerable to injury on this night. To ensure trick-or-treaters stay safe, Dr. Smith recommends that children:
- 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, don’t run, across the street.
- Walk on sidewalks or paths. If there are no sidewalks, walk facing traffic as far to the left as possible. Children should walk on direct routes with the fewest street crossings.
- Slow down and stay alert – watch out for cars that are turning or backing up and never dart out into the street or cross in between parked cars.
- 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.
- Slow down in residential neighborhoods and school zones. Remember that popular trick-or-treating hours are during the typical rush-hour period of 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. Children are excited on Halloween and may move in unpredictable ways.
- Slowly and carefully enter and exit driveways and alleys.
- Reduce any distractions inside your car, such as talking on the phone or eating, so you can concentrate on the road and your surroundings.
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,” said Carmen DeBruce, coalition member, Allen County Safe Kids. “Remind children to only eat treats in original and unopened wrappers.”
In preparation for Halloween, Allen County Safe Kids teamed up with volunteers from Walk This Way program sponsor FedEx on Oct. 15 to provide kids at St. Charles Borromeo School with reflective materials to promote visibility, including trick-or-treat bags and zipper tags that can be attached to costumes.
For more tips on how to help kids become safer pedestrians on Halloween, as well as throughout the year, visit the Safe Kids website.
Allen County Safe Kids is a coalition of local organizations dedicated to preventing accidental childhood injury, the leading killer of children 14 and under. The lead organization for Allen County Safe Kids is Lutheran Children’s Hospital, which distributed 3,500 Kids dart. Drive smart. signs during this year’s campaign. Allen County Safe Kids is a member of Safe Kids Worldwide, a global network of organizations dedicated to preventing accidental injury. Allen County Safe Kids was founded in 1999.