Halloween can be one of the most fun nights of the year for children across the country but for parents, it can be the most nerve-wracking of times. On average, twice as many kids are killed while walking on Halloween than on any other day of the year, says Cynthia Dennis, RN, coordinator of Safe Kids Northeast Florida led by THE PLAYERS Center for Child Health at Wolfson Children’s Hospital.
“On Halloween, more children are on the street after dark than normal, and they are so excited that they may run out into the street without thinking,” Dennis said. “We are asking parents to talk to their kids about how to walk safely, and asking drivers to take extra care and slow down on neighborhood roads.”
Long before letting them head outside for trick or treating, talk to your kids about watching out for cars. Teach kids to make eye contact with drivers before crossing the street and use crosswalks, when possible. Additionally, parents can use glow sticks, flashlights or reflective trick-or-treat bags to make sure kids’ costumes are visible to drivers. By taking just a few simple precautions, she added, kids, parents and drivers can make the night fun and safe.
Tips for a happy (and safe) Halloween:
1. Decorate costumes and bags with reflective tape or stickers and, if possible, choose light colored clothing.
2. Masks can obstruct a child’s vision, so choose non-toxic face paint and make-up whenever possible.
3. Have children carry glow sticks or flashlights so they can see better, as well as be seen by drivers.
4. Stay alert - Watch out for cars that are turning or backing up and don’t dart out into the street or cross in between parked cars.
5. Walk on sidewalks or paths. If there are no sidewalks, walk facing traffic as far to the left as possible.
6. Put electronic devices down and keep heads up and walk, don’t run, across the street.
7. It’s best to cross the street safely at corners. And always look left, right and left again when crossing and keep looking as you cross.
8. Slow down in residential neighborhoods. Remember that popular trick-or-treating hours are 5:30 to 9:30 p.m.
9. 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.
10. Reduce any distractions inside your car, such as talking on the phone or eating, so you can concentrate on the road and your surroundings.
Safe Kids Northeast Florida is joining together with FedEx® to promote safe walking this Halloween. FedEx volunteers are teaming up with 167 local Safe Kids coalitions in towns and cities across the United States to provide reflective materials and safe walking information to parents and children.
In 2000, Safe Kids Worldwide and program sponsor FedEx launched the Walk This Way Program in the United States to educate motorists and child pedestrians and create safer, more walkable communities. Safe Kids and FedEx address the issue through research, physical improvements to school zones, and education and awareness campaigns throughout the year.
For more tips on how to help kids become safer pedestrians on Halloween, and throughout the year, visit www.safekids.org and visit our Facebook page.