With many of the biggest Halloween canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic, public health authorities are asking treat-or-treaters to stay in their own neighborhoods.
But as children take to the streets to trick-or-treat, parents and guardians need to be alert to more than the risk posed by the coronavirus. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports that Halloween is consistently one of the top three days for pedestrian injuries and fatalities, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that children are four times more likely to be struck by a motor vehicle on Halloween than any other day of the year. Because excited trick-or-treaters often forget about safety, motorists and parents must be even more alert.
Here are some tips for helping keep young ones safe on Halloween, courtesy of the American Automobile Association:
• Slow down in residential neighborhoods and obey all traffic signs and signals. Drive at least 5 mph below the posted speed limit to give yourself extra time to react to children who may dart into the street.
• Watch for children walking on roadways, medians and curbs. In dark costumes, they’ll be harder to see at night.
• Look for children crossing the street. They may not be paying attention to traffic and cross the street mid-block or between parked cars.
• Carefully enter and exit driveways and alleys.
• Turn on your headlights to make yourself more visible—even in the daylight.
• Broaden your scanning by looking for children left and right into yards and front porches.
• Ensure an adult or older, responsible youth is available to supervise children under age 12.
• Plan and discuss the route your trick-or-treaters will follow.
• Instruct children to travel only in familiar areas and along established routes.
• Teach children to stop only at well-lit houses and to never to enter a stranger’s home or garage.
• Establish a time for children to return home.
• Tell children not to eat any treats until they get home.
• Review trick-or-treating safety precautions, including pedestrian and traffic safety rules.
• Make sure Halloween costumes are flame-retardant and visible with retro-reflective material.
• Be bright at night—wear retro-reflective tape on costumes and treat buckets to improve visibility to motorists and others.
• Wear disguises that don’t obstruct vision. Also, watch the length of billowy costumes to help avoid tripping.
• Ensure any props are flexible and blunt-tipped to avoid injury from tripping or horseplay.
• Carry a flashlight containing fresh batteries, and place it facedown in the treat bucket to free up one hand. Never shine it into the eyes of oncoming drivers.
• Stay on sidewalks and avoid walking in streets if possible.
• If there are no sidewalks, walk on the left side of the road, facing traffic.
• Look both ways and listen for traffic before crossing the street.
• Cross streets only at the corner, and never cross between parked vehicles or mid-block.
• Trick-or-treat in a group if someone older cannot go with you.
• Tell your parents where you are going.