Halloween is one of the highlights of the year for kids and parents alike. I loved seeing my kids get dressed up and go door-to-door “tricking-or-treating” in our neighborhood. Yet Halloween can be a nightmare, too, as it proves statistically to be one of the most dangerous times for children.
According to statistics published by the National Safety Council, 6,300 pedestrians died and 145,000 sought medical treatment for accidents that occurred during Halloween involving pedestrians and motor vehicles alone. Sadly, the research shows that nearly half of those victims were children between the ages of five and nine, who darted in front of oncoming traffic, making October one of the deadliest months of the year.
In our Florida children’s injury law firm, we have investigated hundreds of incidents of children having been seriously injured by slipping, tripping, and falling as well as in car, truck, motorcycle, bicycle, and pedestrian accidents.
We believe there are several important ways to keep your kids safe this Halloween, and we recommend the following Halloween Safety Tips:
1. PARENTAL SUPERVISION
I am always amazed that some parents will simply allow their unsupervised children to roam their own (and sometimes not their own) neighborhoods to ring the doorbells of strangers’ homes and ask for candy. Just writing that sentence sounds crazy, but parents across the country routinely let their children out on Halloween with the hope and expectation that things will go safely.
We believe you should not allow your children to roam freely on this or any other night until they are mature and sophisticated enough to appreciate the dangers that can lurk behind a stranger’s door, as well as how to cross dark streets safely at night.
Halloween can be a great time for pictures and social media. However, we recommend that both children and parents leave their phones behind and try instead to stay aware of their surroundings, and not be distracted by Snapchat or Instagram. We tell our clients who are parents to think of themselves as their child’s personal Secret Service detail, ready at any moment to step in and provide protection. In fact, that might make a great Halloween costume for parents—Secret Service Agent.
We strongly recommend that both you and your child carry flashlights with you at all times so that you can see not only where you are walking but also the hazards many households put out in the form of lights and decorations for Halloween, which can easily lead to tripping in dim lighting.
Walk with your children up to the door when they ring the bell to make sure they don’t trip, slip, or fall on an extension cord or even the spilled candy wrappers from previous trick-or-treaters.
3. BE SEEN
We believe the number-one cause of Halloween-related accidents is inadequate lighting. Kids are running from house to house, and it can often be very difficult for drivers, heading home after a long day of work, to see them in time to avoid a collision. For example, Coral Gables, Florida, where I live can be exceptionally dark at night, and often there are few if any sidewalks for kids. If you live in a similarly dark area, we suggest that rather than exploring the dark streets, you find a well-lit commercial shopping street, or a shopping mall where your child can go from store to store rather than house to house. Many shopping areas sponsor Halloween nights for just this reason, and it is well worth the drive to keep your kid safe.
Many Halloween costumes as well as the parents’ clothing do not have reflective qualities that can be illuminated by headlights. While there have been wonderful safety advances in commercial Halloween costumes, to make them more fire-resistant as well as better ventilated would be even better. They have been dangerous and stuffy since I was a kid, and they still are not as safe as they could and should be.
Whether you buy a commercial costume or make one at home, it is important to make it as visible in the dark as possible. We recommend and have designed a special Halloween blinking safety light that you easily attach to yourself and your child’s costume to help your child be seen by oncoming traffic. Make sure a day or two ahead that the device is working properly and that you have replacement batteries available so that you are not tempted to go out without a functioning safety light.