Health :: Safe Kids Coalition offers Halloween safety tips

Dauphin County Safe Kids Coalition, led by Penn State Children’s Hospital, reminds parents this Halloween that Oct. 31 is the most dangerous day of the year for child pedestrians. In fact, children are four times more likely to be killed while walking on Halloween than any other night of the year. It is essential for parents to prepare their children properly to stay safe while having fun.

The end of Daylight Savings Time means that children are more likely to be trick-or-treating in the dark when it is harder for drivers to see them and the excitement of the holiday can make everyone less cautious. To keep kids safe, parents must remind them about the rules of the road and ensure that they will be seen by drivers this Halloween.

“Parents need to remind kids about safety while walking before they go out trick-or-treating,” says Susan Rzucidlo, coordinator of Dauphin County Safe Kids and pediatric trauma clinical specialist, Penn State Children’s Hospital. “Children also should bring flashlights or glow sticks with them, carry reflective bags or have reflective tape on their costumes and not wear masks which may inhibit their ability to see hazards. Ensuring kids are seen this Halloween is essential to keep this holiday fun for everyone.”

Safe Kids recommends that children under age 12 do not trick-or-treat without adult supervision. If kids are mature enough to go trick-or-treating without supervision, make sure they stick to a predetermined route with good lighting. Parents must remind kids to:

— Cross streets safely. Cross at a corner, using traffic signals and crosswalks. Try to make eye contact with drivers before crossing in front of them. Don’t assume that because kids can see the driver, the driver can see them. Look left, right and left again when crossing, and keep looking as you cross. Walk, don’t run, across the street.

— Walk on sidewalks or paths. If there are no sidewalks, walk facing traffic as far to the left as possible. Children should walk on direct routes with the fewest street crossings.

— Be a safe pedestrian around cars. Watch for cars that are turning or backing up. Never dart out into the street or cross between parked cars.

Although pedestrian safety is a main concern on Halloween, parents need to keep in mind that there are other hazards for their children on this holiday. Parents must check treats for signs of tampering before children are allowed to eat them. The liquid in glow sticks also is hazardous, so parents should remind children not to chew on or break them.

Many factors contribute to making Halloween a potentially dangerous holiday for children, but with proper preparation, parents and children can reduce the risk of accidental injuries.

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