10 Tips to Protect Kids from Cars While Trick-or-Treating

The biggest danger to kids on Halloween isn’t poisoned candy – it’s child pedestrian accidents. Historically, children are four times more likely to get hit by a car and twice as likely to die in a pedestrian accident on this day than on any other.

Why does this happen?

The obvious answer is more children are walking in close proximity to moving traffic. But there are compounding factors such as distracted walking and difficult-to-spot costumes.

That’s where parents and caretakers should take extra precaution. Visibility, adequate supervision and the child’s familiarity with road rules play a big role in safety. These principals apply year round.

Here’s what parents should keep in mind to make Halloween (or any day, for that matter) safe and fun:

1.  Make Sure Costumes Are Accident-Proof

Choose Costume Tripping is a common cause of child injuries on Halloween. Make sure your child’s costume does not include capes or skirts that fall far below the knee. Choose brightly colored costumes made from fabrics with Flame Resistant (FR) fibers.

2. Review Traffic Safety Rules

wrong way
Original image from Kreg Steppe, Flickr creative commons
Talk to your kids about safety before they head out. Review street signs and signals and explain good safety practices such as looking both ways and making eye contact with the driver before crossing. Consult this complete list of rules for safe walking maintained by New York State Governor’s Traffic Safety Commission.  

3. Choose the neighborhoods to visit ahead of time

plan route

Some neighborhoods have sidewalks — some don’t. Some have great street lighting others are not well lit. Use Google Maps or another type of GPS planner to choose the best neighborhoods for trick-or-treating and plan your route from one spot to the next. This will help reduce the number of traffic risks you encounter.

4. Include enough adults

Image: USAG Humphreys, Flickr creative commons
State child protective agencies generally recommend adult supervision for children under 12 at night. Yet, there’s a limit to how many kids one adult can effectively supervise. The Safe Kid’s Network provides guidelines for child-to-adult ratios. Some children may require one-on-one supervision but, in general, one adult for every three to six children is adequate.

5. Use non-toxic face paint in place of attachable masks

Facepaint over masks Facemasks can loosen or shift and interfere with a child’s vision causing them to trip or misjudge the curb. Use face paint and make sure the application is not too close to the child’s eyes. Hats should be properly fitted so they won’t fall forward. Avoid over-the-counter colored contact lenses, which can compromise vision.

6. Add something that glows

glow in the dark costume
Image from NHLegalBlog.com

Make sure your child is highly visible in the dark. Fun party items including glow sticks, florescent necklaces and jewelry, reflective tape, fabric paint and temporary hair dye all add visibility. Government-tested reflective vests can be used as part of a costume or worn by a supervising adult. High-visibility wraps can be added to the handles of trick-or-treat bags.

7. Leave kid’s cellphones and other devices at home

iphone-569065_1280 A study from Ohio State University found pedestrian injuries have been increasing at staggering rates due to “distracted walking.” Let kids enjoy the holiday’s excitement and leave the music, cell phones, and electronic games behind. Adults should carry cell phones for use in an emergency.

8. Cross the street as a group at the intersection

492917705_a09ebf4e0d_o According to SafeKids.org, children 10 and under are not developmentally capable of judging a car’s speed or distance. Have everyone hold hands and cross the street together — it also helps cars see you. Roughly 70 percent of pedestrian deaths occur outside an intersection, so use the crosswalks and respect pedestrian signals. Never cross the street by walking between parked cars.

9. Swap specialty shoes for comfortable footwear

glow in the dark costume 2
Images by , Flickr creative commons
Fancy costumes often come with fancy footgear. But for safe trick-or-treating you’ll need to ditch the heels, boots, skates, and any other specialty shoes that cause imbalance and interfere with walking. In the end, your child will be happier and more comfortable and will probably forget there was any other option.

10. Carry a flashlight

carry fashlight You can never have enough light when your kids are walking at night. Flashlights, carried by supervising adults, can help illuminate uneven sidewalks or pavement cracks and brings additional visibility to groups of trick-or-treaters.
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Author: Dana Henry

Dana Henry is a Content Strategist for Traffic Safety Store. After years working as a reporter and editor for print and online publications, Dana has developed her focus on emerging technology and innovation. She resides in Philadelphia and is an avid cyclist.

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