For kids, no holiday can match Halloween for pure fun: Scary costumes, trick-or-treating, class parties, trips to haunted houses, and lots and lots of candy.
Unfortunately, however, it’s also one of the most dangerous times of the year for kids.
While the stories of razor blades in apples or poisonous candy are exceedingly rare, children face plenty of other risks on Halloween.
Children wearing loose-fitting costumes can trip and fall, pointed objects like canes or swords can cause eye injuries, and pumpkin carving always creates a spike in hand and finger injuries, according to orthopedic surgeons.
But the biggest danger is automobiles. According to the organization Safe Kids Worldwide, children are roughly twice as likely to be struck and killed by a car on Halloween than on any other night.
It’s usually dark when trick-or-treaters are out, and they might dart out into roadways in their excitement. Meanwhile, motorists are more apt to have been drinking, due to the popularity of Halloween events in bars. The result, according to a study published in JAMA Pediatrics in January, is a 43% heightened risk of pedestrian fatality compared with other autumn evenings.
Therefore, if you want to keep your little trick-or-treaters safe on Halloween night, here are a few steps you should consider:
Be sure that costumes fit properly to reduce the risk of tripping. Discourage dark costumes in favor of brightly colored ones.
Be sure that masks fit properly and do not impair vision or breathing.
Choose face paint and makeup instead of masks as much as possible.
Keep candle-lit jack-o-lanterns away from locations where children can brush against them. Consider using LED lights inside them instead.
Put reflective tape on treat bags. Keep toys with small parts away from children under age 3.
Remind children to walk safely: Watch for traffic, cross streets at corners using signals and crosswalks, and make eye contact with drivers before crossing in front of them.
Have kids wear glow sticks or flashlights to help them see and be seen by drivers.
In addition, you should always accompany young children on their neighborhood rounds. If children are old enough to go alone, plan and review a route that is acceptable and specify a time when they should be home.
Halloween is an exciting time for kids. By paying attention to a few simple rules, you can help them to enjoy it safely.