According to the American College of Emergency Physicians, an estimated 41 million children between the ages of five and 14 will hit the trick-or-treat trails this Halloween. And, unfortunately, on average, twice as many children are hit and killed by cars between the hours of 4pm and 10pm on Halloween compared to the same timeframe on any other day of the year based upon information from Safe Kids Worldwide.
Pennsylvania physicians say parents of trick-or-treaters can reduce the risk for their children by taking a few steps of precaution while not taking any of the fun out of Halloween.
“Halloween should be about fun with your friends, not a visit to your local emergency department,” says Todd Fijewski, MD, FACEP, president of the Pennsylvania College of Emergency Physicians.
Karen Rizzo, MD, 2015 president of the Pennsylvania Medical Society, says that in addition to safety around cars, there are other common Halloween injuries to avoid including eye injuries from sharp objects and burns from flammable costumes.
Both physicians recommend parents seek out organized “trick-or-treat” at organized Halloween festivities, such as those sometimes offered by local churches, shopping malls, or schools.
In addition, both the Pennsylvania College of Emergency Physicians and the Pennsylvania Medical Society suggest that adults follow these tips to help their children have a safe and fun Halloween:
Parents or other responsible adults should accompany children as they travel through neighborhoods to reinforce all of the safety
Make sure children stay on sidewalks as much as possible (off streets) and obey all traffic signals.
Make sure no child wanders off when they should be staying together in a group.
Practice “Stranger Danger.” Make sure they know never to accept rides from strangers or visit unfamiliar homes or areas.
Avoid costumes that could cause children to trip, such as baggy pants, long hems, high heels and oversized shoes.
Avoid costumes that obstruct the child’s sight or vision.
Avoid masks if possible. If your child must wear one, make sure it is well ventilated.
Make sure costume fabric, wigs and beards area made of flame-resistant materials, such as nylon or polyester.
Keep candlelit Jack-O-Lanterns away from children so they can’t get burned or set on fire.
Make sure costumes are visible at night: avoid dark colors. Add reflective tape to costumes so your child is more visible to motor vehicles.
Check all of candy before any child eats it. Avoid candy that is not wrapped in its original wrapper, as well as all fruit.
Stay in well-lit, familiar neighborhoods, if possible.
Take a flashlight while trick-or-treating as visibility decreases long before it gets really dark.
Check accessories such as swords, knives, wands and other pointed objects. Make sure they are made from flexible materials and have dulled edges.