Halloween can be an exciting day for children, filled with candy, costumes and festivals. Often times however, safety measures are overlooked or forgotten, which can turn this holiday into anything but a treat. Following a few simple safety tips can ensure a great day for everyone.
Make Children Visible
According to Officer Jessica Schindeldecker, a crime prevention officer with the Fargo Police Department, visibility is the biggest way to keep kids safe on Halloween. When shopping for a costume, have children choose one that is made of light-colored material. This will make them stand out more while walking in the darker evening hours. Ensure a proper fit of costumes to discourage tripping and falling, and only purchase costumes that are flame resistant. If accessories like swords, canes, or sticks are used, make sure they are not sharp or too long. A child or others may be hurt by these if he or she stumbles or trips. Because masks can obstruct a child’s vision, makeup and face paint is often a better alternative. Schindeldecker also recommends children wear glow sticks – whether bracelets, necklaces, or both – add reflective tape to costumes, shoes and bags, and carry a flashlight. “All of these things will make kids easier to see at night,” she said.
Before heading out for the evening, it’s important for parents to discuss rules and safety issues with their kids. Stress the importance of looking both ways before crossing streets and watching for cars, especially in driveways. Stay on sidewalks whenever possible, and cross streets at corners, using traffic signals and crosswalks. Never dart into streets, or weave between parked cars. Trick-or-treating with a group of friends, or attending Halloween carnivals and events, adds to safety. Stroll through familiar, well-lit neighborhoods, accompanied by an adult, and only accept treats from people you know. Throw away any candy with open wrappers, or homemade items from unfamiliar people. Eliminate any choking hazards, like suckers and hard candies, for small children. If older children are going out alone, plan a safe route ahead of time, and designate a time and place to meet up when finished.
Keep Your Eyes on the Road
In 2013, an estimated 6,100 pedestrian deaths and 160,000 medically consulted non-fatal injuries occurred among pedestrians in motor vehicle incidents, according to Injury Facts 2015, the statistical report on unintentional injuries, created by the National Safety Council (www.nsc.org). Darting or running into the road accounted for about 70 percent of pedestrian deaths or injuries for those age 5 to 9, and about 47 percent of incidents for those ages 10-14. Because of this, those driving around on Halloween evening also need to take extra precautions. Officer Schindeldecker warns drivers to pay even closer attention to their surroundings than normal, which means driving slower and not giving into distractions. Turning on headlights before it becomes very dark will also increase visibility and awareness. “Drivers need to be extra cautious because there are young pedestrians out there,” she added. “Take a few extra seconds at intersections and crosswalks, just to be sure. Everyone’s safety is the number one concern.”
By Kristin Johnson