Between picking out a costume, parties in school or at home, and stocking up on sweets, Halloween is the highlight of the season for many kids, and even some adults. However, Halloween can be a dangerous night if steps are not taken to help keep trick-or-treaters – and all pedestrians – safe. On average, children are more than twice as likely to be hit by a car and killed on Halloween than on any other day of the year.
Check out the following tips to help Halloween be a fun night for all while keeping everyone safe and healthy.
• Avoid trick-or-treating alone. Make sure children walk in groups or with a trusted adult.
• Fasten reflective tape to costumes and bags to help drivers see you.
• Hold a flashlight while trick-or-treating to help you see and others see you.
• Encourage children to walk from house to house instead of being driven. • Kids can even wear pedometers and start a friendly competition for who can be the most active while collecting candy.
• Only walk on sidewalks whenever possible, or on the far edge of the road facing traffic to stay safe. Look both ways before crossing the street and use established crosswalks wherever possible. Remain on well-lit streets.
• Enter homes only with a trusted adult. Only visit well-lit houses. Never accept rides from strangers.
• Look both ways before crossing the street. Teach young children basic pedestrian skills, such as “look left, look right, look left again for traffic” to lay a foundation of good safety skills that will keep them safe when they are older.
• Consider handing out non-candy or healthier items to trick-or-treaters. These can include stickers, toys, temporary tattoos, tiny decks of cards, toothbrushes, pretzels, sugar-free gum, trail mix, raisins, popcorn, sugar-free candy, or small boxes of cereal. For party guests, offer a variety of fruits, vegetables, and cheeses.
• Remind trick-or-treaters to watch out for cars and remind drivers to watch out for trick-or-treaters and to drive safely. Popular trick-or-treating hours are 5:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. so be especially alert for kids during those hours.
• Be sure walking areas and stairs are well lit and free of obstacles that could result in falls.
Food and candy:
• Examine all treats for choking hazards and tampering before eating them. • Limit the amount of treats you eat.
• Eat only factory-wrapped treats. Avoid eating homemade treats made by strangers.
• If you would just like to reduce the Halloween stash, ask if your child would like to swap some, or all, of the candy for a special toy, book, or outing.
• Buy candy you don’t love. This will make it easier to resist.
• Keep the candy out of sight, and it will help keep it out of your mind.
• Before kids go trick-or-treating, serve a healthy meal so they are not as hungry for candy.
Costumes and parties:
• Wear well-fitting masks, costumes, and shoes to avoid blocked vision, trips, and falls.
• Use party games and trick-or-treat time as an opportunity for kids to get their daily dose of 60 minutes of physical activity.
• Be a role model by eating Halloween candy in moderation yourself. To help avoid temptation, buy your candy at the last minute and get rid of any leftovers.
Remember that Halloween, like other holidays, is a single day on the calendar, but keeping all pedestrians safe is the responsibility of the entire community every day of the year. People are reminded to put electronic devices down, keep heads up, and walk, don't run, across the street. Moderation is key when it comes to the candy and treats.
Have a happy Halloween!
-- Andrew Warlen, MPH, is the director of the Independence Health Department.
For more information about Halloween health and safety, visit http://www.cdc.gov/family/halloweenhealth/