As children will be heading out to go trick-or-treating this Halloween, Dr. Michael Mitchell, medical director of the pediatric emergency department at Atrium Health Wake Forest Baptist Brenner Children’s Hospital, the region’s only Level I pediatric trauma center, wants families to remember some important tips to make Halloween safe and fun.
“Sometimes kids can get so excited they run out into the road without thinking or looking for cars,” Mitchell said. “In addition, it is sometimes difficult for drivers to see children who are in dark clothing, and costumes can often impair a child’s vision, further increasing the danger of being struck by a vehicle.”
Mitchell and the nonprofit Safe Kids Worldwide offered the following tips.
Before Heading Out:
- Children should have costumes that are bright and reflective. Glow sticks and reflective tape or striping on costumes and trick-or-treat bags increase visibility.
- Shoes should be comfortable, and costumes should be short enough to prevent tripping, entanglement or contact with flames.
- Swords or other costume accessories should be short, soft and flexible.
- Children under the age of 12 should not be alone at night without adult supervision. If kids are mature enough to be out without supervision, remind them to stick to familiar areas that are well lit and walk in groups.
- Teach children to always make eye contact with drivers before crossing in front of them and to never dart out into the street or cross between parked cars.
On the Trick-or-Treat Trail:
- Chaperones and children should carry a flashlight with fresh batteries.
- Children should be paying attention to where they are walking and not be distracted by phones or tablets.
- Children should remain on sidewalks or always walk facing traffic. Watch for cars that may be turning or backing out of driveways.
- Cross the street at corners, using traffic signals and crosswalks. Look left, right, and left again when crossing and keep looking as you cross.
Safety Tips for Checking Halloween Candy:
- Wait until children are home to sort and check treats.
- If you have children with food allergies, the risk of exposure to food allergens is high from accidental ingestion to cross-contamination so it is important to learn which candy contains what ingredients.
- Though tampering is rare, a responsible adult should closely examine all treats and throw away any of the following candies that have:
- An unusual appearance or discoloration
- Tiny pinholes or tears in wrappers
- Spoiled or unwrapped items
- Homemade items or baked goods should be discarded unless you personally know who gave them.
- When in doubt, throw it out.
According to Safe Kids Worldwide, on average, children are more than twice as likely to be hit and killed by a vehicle on Halloween than on any other day of the year.
“That’s why we’re also urging drivers to be extra careful, drive slowly and never get behind the wheel if they’ve been drinking,” Mitchell said. “We know kids are excited on Halloween, and we want everyone to celebrate safely and avoid ending up in the emergency department.”
Tips for Drivers:
- Slow down and be especially alert in residential neighborhoods. Children are excited on Halloween and may move in unpredictable ways.
- Take extra time to look for kids at intersections, on medians and on curbs.
- Enter and exit driveways and alleys slowly and carefully.
- Get rid of any distractions - like your phone - in your car so you can concentrate on the road and your surroundings.
- Turn your headlights on earlier in the day to spot children from greater distances.
- Popular trick-or-treating hours are 5:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. Be especially alert for kids during those hours.