7 Tips for Halloween Safety
While Halloween can be a very exciting time for children and parents, it can be one of the most dangerous nights of the year. In fact, Halloween is the deadliest day of the year for child pedestrians. Children are three times more likely to be struck and killed by a car on Halloween, according to the federal highway safety data.
It is important for both children and parents to practice Halloween safety tips for walking around your community or neighborhood. Here are some expert tips from Katie Chaucer, DNP, of Pediatric Primary Care in Berlin at UVM Health Network - Central Vermont Medical Center.
Set Safety Rules
Before going out, review and practice safety rules and expectations with your child. Remind them to look both ways before crossing the street, not to walk in the middle of the road and walk instead of run. Be cautious of strangers and strange pets, and never go inside a house of someone you don’t know. It's common for rural families to pack up the car and drive to a more populated neighborhood on Halloween night. Remember to practice good safety. Better yet? Parents and caregivers can visit the neighborhood in advance to become familiar with the new area before heading out at night. Try asking other parents for advice on the route, or areas to avoid.
Lastly, nobody plans on getting lost, so make sure your child is prepared in the event they are separated from the group. Talk through these important steps:
1. If you're lost, stop moving.
2. Find an adult, preferably one with other children.
3. Tell the adult "My name is ____ and I'm lost."
Kids under the age of 12 need supervision. If they want to go out with their friends, suggest walking around as a group with parent chaperones.
Our region is cold and dark - and sometimes snowy - on Halloween night, so pick an easy-to-layer, reflective and comfortable costume that can fit a jacket, sweatshirt or turtleneck shirt underneath. Don’t choose anything that will obstruct your child’s view or become too heavy or cumbersome for them to walk in. Wear appropriate footwear like boots or sneakers even if they don't "match" the costume.
While it's tempting to start snacking on candy while walking from house-to-house, parents should first inspect candy. This is especially important if you have a food allergy or a smaller child nearby who might choke on small pieces they find. Many popular Halloween candies contain some of the most common allergens, such as peanuts, milk, eggs, soy or wheat. Be aware that even if these ingredients aren’t listed on the label, candy is at high risk of containing trace amounts of common allergy triggers, because of where they are made.
Get rid of anything that looks unwrapped or tampered with. Lastly, be aware of unfamiliar candy. Remember, when in doubt, throw it out.
Whether you're walking through a downtown, village or one of Vermont and northern New York's many rural roads, be sure your group will be visible to cars. Carry glow sticks, a flashlight or add reflective tape to costumes or bags.
Keep Homes Safe
To keep homes safe for trick-or-treaters, parents should remove anything in the yard or porch that someone could trip on. Illuminate long, rural driveways and keep the outside of the house well-lit with a clear path leading up to your house.
Be mindful of your pets. Secure your animals in a part of the home where they can't jump or bite trick-or-treaters.
Try Healthy Alternatives
Halloween is a holiday centered around candy, which is fine in moderation, but if you are concerned about how unhealthy all that candy can be, ask your child if they'd like to trade the candy back in exchange for a special outing or activity you would love to do with them. Then, you can give back the candy on special occasions in the months ahead.