Published on Wednesday, 30 November -0001 00:00
By: Don C. Keenan
Kids love Halloween. Costumes! Free Candy! It's a night of pure fun - or so we believe. What you may not know is that Halloween is also a night where children are more prone to accident and injury.
Consider the following:
Between the hours of 4-10 p.m. on Halloween, there is a significant increase in falls, burn-related injuries, and pedestrian injuries, according to a University of Michigan study.
On Halloween night, pedestrian fatalities are about four-and-a-half times higher than on any other night of the year. Darkness and speed combine to multiply the risk of a pedestrian fatality seven times on high-speed, limited-access roadways; five times on urban arterial roads; and three times on slower local roads.
Halloween is a very exciting night for the child in all of us. Often, this excitement leads both children and parents to be less cautious than they should be. However, there are many ways to keep your child safe during Halloween. Common sense can do a lot to stop a tragedy from happening.
Whether homemade or purchased, make certain that your child's costume is safe. Consider the following safety tips:
Help your child pick out or make a costume that will be safe. Costumes, masks, beards, and wigs should be flame resistant; the eye holes should be large enough for good peripheral vision. As an alternative, consider a natural mask of cosmetics. Purchase or make costumes that are light and bright enough to be clearly visible to motorists.
Hats and scarves should be tied securely to prevent them from slipping over children's eyes. Costumes should be short enough to prevent children from tripping and falling.
Make sure that if your child is carrying a prop, such as a knife or pitchfork, that the tips are smooth, soft, and flexible enough to not cause injury if fallen on.
Children should wear well-fitting, sturdy shoes that are safe for walking.
For greater visibility during dusk and darkness, decorate or trim costumes with reflective tape that will glow in the beam of a car's headlights. Bags or sacks should also be light colored or decorated with reflective tape. To easily see and be seen, children should also carry flashlights.
Trick or treating isn't what it used to be; it's not as safe to let kids walk the streets alone. Consider the following safety tips:
Young children should always go trick-or-treating with an adult. If old enough to trick-or-treat without an adult, kids should stay in a group. If not accompanying your child, set a time for their return trip home.
Plan your child's trick or treat route in a well-known, well-lit neighborhood. Trick-or-treat in populated places and don't go off the beaten track. Stop only at familiar houses in your own neighborhood; visit only houses with the lights on.
Make sure your kids don't go inside someone's house. They can get their candy from the porch. Teach your kids to never accept a ride or go anywhere with a stranger.
Encourage your kids to follow all the regular rules for walking around. This includes looking both ways before crossing, obeying all traffic laws, and using cross walks and crossing lights where available.
Check your kids' candy before they eat it. Throw out any candy that is not in its original wrapper or looks like it has been tampered with. Do not eat homemade treats.
Don Keenan, the founder of Keenan's Kids Foundation, is the author of the child safety book 365 Ways to Keep Kids Safe, which is available at www.balloonpress.com, and www.amazon.com. All proceeds benefit the Keenan's Kids Foundation, www.keenanskidsfoundation.com, or www.myspace.com/365waystokeepkidssafe.com.