Enjoy Treats. Avoid Tricks. Halloween Safety for Everyone is a fairly serious discussion to have. In case you didn’t know, more children are injured and killed on October the 31st than on any other single day of the year. It isn’t because of bad candy, either.
Many kids are injured or die as a result of automobile/pedestrian collisions. Other suffer falls in the dark, or fall into the wrong hands.
And, as amazing as all of that sounds, did you know that according to Safe Kids International, 12% of surveyed parents think it’s “okay” to let their under-12 year old children out to trick or treat alone, without parental supervision? Really?
Halloween has evolved into one of the biggest events, not to mention “holidays” in the United States. Great! Let’s make sure it’s fun for the entire family – and a trip to the emergency room, or worse, isn’t part of the evening activities.
Be a Smart Pedestrian
- Always use traffic signals and crosswalks, if available.
- Look both left and right when crossing any street or road and keep alert as you cross.
- No texting, Facebooking, or social media when crossing the street, or even when walking down the street. Use your phone properly, and keep your eyes on your surroundings. We call this “situational awareness.”
- Teach children to make eye contact with drivers in vehicles before crossing in front of them.
- Take a flashlight with you. If concerned when at a crosswalk or street corner, use it and wave it back and forth (pointed down at the street) when crossing streets to create attention. Don’t point a flashlight at the windshield of a vehicle – you could accidentally blind the driver, resulting in that person’s inability to see where their vehicle is headed.
- Always walk on sidewalks or paths. If there are no sidewalks, walk facing traffic as far to the left as possible. Parents should consider wearing highly visible outer clothing, if possible.
- No running into the street! No running across driveways. Halloween costumes are often dark and difficult to see at night, especially to a driver backing a vehicle up.
Adults – Go With Your Kids. Really.
- Children under the age of 12 should not be alone at night without adult supervision. If children are mature enough to be out at night without supervision, they should stick to familiar areas that are well lit and trick-or-treat in groups. Never let your kids walk alone.
Be Costume-Smart on Halloween
- Decorate costumes and bags with reflective tape or stickers and, if possible, choose light colors.
- Choose face paint and makeup whenever possible instead of masks, which can obstruct a child’s vision.
- Have kids carry glow sticks or flashlights to help them see and be seen by drivers.
If You Drive on Halloween, Slow Down
- Situational awareness is essential all day on Halloween. Be extra alert at dusk and into the late hours of the evening. Kids are excited when they’re out and about. They are more likely to forget about safety and may run into the street unexpectedly. Assume the worst about behavioral patterns, and be alert.
- Slow down and be especially alert in residential neighborhoods.
- Enter and exit driveways and alleys using caution.
- Eliminate any distractions inside your car so you can concentrate on the road and your surroundings. No loud music when driving on Halloween.
- Anticipate heavy pedestrian traffic and turn your headlights on before dusk to spot children from greater distances.
- If possible use battery operated “candles” in Jack ‘O Lanterns instead of real candles. Avoid flames anywhere on Halloween.
- Make certain that costumes don’t have sleeves, hairpieces, or other elements that can get caught on things, including a hot stove, fireplace, or BBQ.
- If you do use candles in pumpkins, don’t leave them outside burning overnight.
- Remember that boiling water causes burns just as fire does. Be careful when cooking around those in costume, and especially young children.
Take Care of Your Pets on Halloween
- Your pet’s Halloween garb should not constrict his movement or hearing, or impede his ability to breathe, bark or meow. Try costumes on before Halloween, and if your pet isn’t happy, come up with a different solution, or no costume. Your pet’s comfort is highly important.
- Examine your pet’s costume and make sure it doesn’t have any small, dangling or easily chewed-off pieces that he could choke on. Remember, ill-fitting outfits can get caught on external objects or your pet, leading to injury.
- Ensure that all candy is safely locked away. Your pup’s keen sense of smell will lead him to even the most cleverly hidden treats. Candy containing xylitol, as well as chocolate, are dangerous to pets. If your pet ingests something poisonous, please contact APCC or your vet immediately.
- Glow sticks are very commonly used to keep kids safe while trick-or-treating, and your pet may be tempted to bite into them. While most glow sticks are labeled as non-toxic, they have an extremely bitter taste and pets who bite into them may drool or become agitated. To alleviate this, provide your pet with a small treat or sip of milk to negate the taste. You should also take your pet into a dark room to ensure that none of the glow stick liquid remains on her coat.
- Some dogs experience intense anxiety over the large number of strangely dressed visitors. Keeping your pet away from trick-or-treaters may do the trick, but if you think that your pet will need something more, speak with your vet well in advance. They may recommend a sedative and it is always a good idea to do a trial run—at a time when your vet’s office is open—before the big night to see how they will react to the medication.