COLUMBIA, Mo. — Halloween is an exciting night for children, who dressed as ghouls and goblins navigate neighborhood streets in search of treats. But when so many kids are near cars in the dark, it puts trick-or-treaters at a higher risk for injury or death.
According to Safe Kids USA, twice as many children are killed on average while walking on Halloween compared to other days of the year. Michele Imes, pediatric injury prevention coordinator for Children’s Hospital and Safe Kids Columbia, encourages parents to prepare their children to behave safely on this potentially dangerous night.
“Parents should talk to their children, no matter what age, about the proper way to navigate streets,” said Imes. “However, children 10 years old or younger should not be out alone or crossing streets without adult supervision.”
Imes suggests that parents discuss the importance of using sidewalks when they are available. If there are no sidewalks, children should walk as far to the left of the street as possible, facing traffic so they can see oncoming cars. When crossing streets, which children should do at intersections and traffic signals when possible, they should look both ways and continue looking from side to side while they cross. A child should walk through the intersection, not run across or dart out onto the street from behind parked cars.
“Children become excited at the thought of the next house or treat,” said Imes. “And they can lose focus. Always being alert and preferably moving in groups rather than as individuals can make the difference between a fun holiday and catastrophe.”
Imes also points out that pedestrian safety is a responsibility of drivers, as well.
“The simple act of driving more slowly on neighborhood streets will give the driver more time to stop and avoid a pedestrian if they should forget to follow safe walking guidelines,” said Imes. “Taking extra time to look for kids at intersections, medians, curbs and in driveways also is very important.”
Imes’s additional safety tips for trick-or-treating include decorating costumes and candy bags with reflective tape or stickers, choosing light-colored costumes when possible and avoiding masks that obstruct a child’s vision.
For more tips on how kids can be safer pedestrians on Halloween, as well as throughout the year, visit www.muhealth.org/kohlssafetystore.