With Halloween just around the corner, you, like most parents, are probably thinking about pumpkin carving, sugar highs and costume preparation. On top of all that, you may even be worrying about the dangers of the evening and already planning how best to protect your young children, since experts have long warned of the risks presented by the holiday. In fact, Halloween is one of the most dangerous nights of the entire year for young kids, but perhaps not for the reasons many think.
Though you may worry about the Halloween holiday dangers of talking to strangers or tainted treats, the real hazard lies in pedestrian deaths, especially for kids, who are more likely to be overwhelmed by the excitement of the evening and thus forget their safety. In 2015, motor vehicle accidents injured a whopping 160,000 pedestrians and killed 6,700 more, according to a report by the National Safety Council. So how can you keep your kids from becoming a statistic this Halloween?
Trick-or-treating pedestrian deaths
On Halloween, excited kids fill the streets, distracted by thoughts of candy and fun. Common practice holds that parents of younger children will be accompanying them on their trick-or-treating rounds to help keep them safe, but no matter how many times you feel like you've discussed best safety practices, you may want to review them again, as research revealed:
- Approximately 17 percent of deaths occurred when a pedestrian was attempting to improperly cross streets.
- About 15 percent of fatalities were because of lack of visibility due to dark clothing and low lighting.
- For children aged 5 to 9 years old, darting into the street accounted for 15 percent of deaths.
- For children aged 10 to 15 years old, running into the road accounted for 7 percent of deaths.
Parents may wish to spend extra time reviewing safe pedestrian practices with older children going out unaccompanied, as they will not have an adult along to help protect them from reckless or inattentive drivers.
Halloween safety tips for kids
Whether trick-or-treating with an accompanying parent or heading out solo, Halloween pedestrians of all ages may wish to try to remember the following advice:
- Carry a flashlight.
- Wear reflective clothing or place strips of reflective tapes on costumes to increase visibility.
- Avoid masks that limit vision.
- Cross streets only at crosswalks.
- When crossing the road, walk -- don't run! -- and keep your head up.
Additionally, both parents and kids will want to put away their cell phones and avoid texting and taking photos so as to better pay attention to traffic.
What to do
Unfortunately, no matter how often you review safety tips with your little trick-or-treaters, you have no control over the actions of the drivers out on Halloween night. If you or your children suffered injury in a pedestrian accident due to the carelessness of a Massachusetts driver, there are professional resources to which you can turn.