TOPEKA – On Halloween, ghosts and ghouls may give you a fright, but real dangers, like pedestrian accidents, falls, burns and poisonings are a scary reality. Safe Kids Kansas, the Kansas Department of Health and Environment, the Office of the State Fire Marshal and the Kansas Traffic Safety Resource Office (KTSRO) remind families to keep safety in mind during fall festivities to ensure your trick-or-treaters enjoy a safe holiday.
On average, children are more than twice as likely to be hit by a vehicle and killed on Halloween than on any other day of the year. Drivers need to slow down and be extra alert, especially in neighborhoods, as there will be more children on the streets and sidewalks—and those kids may be focused on gathering candy and the excitement of the holiday rather than being careful while crossing streets.
“Review safety rules with your kids before they leave the house,” said Cherie Sage, Safe Kids Kansas. “Trick-or-treaters are often out when it’s dark, and it’s more difficult for drivers to see them. Children younger than 12 should not cross streets alone on Halloween without an adult or older responsible teenager. While it’s a good idea for children to have a cell phone with them in case of an emergency, remind them to pay attention to their surroundings, and not be distracted from hazards because they are texting or talking on the phone.”
Parents and kids should also be careful with candy. It’s hard to resist the temptation to dive right into treats, but it is best to check sweets for signs of tampering before children are allowed to eat them. Only eat treats in original and unopened wrappers.
According to the National Fire Protection Association, during the five-year period from 2009-2013, decorations were the item that first ignited in an estimated 860 reported home structure fires per year. Nearly half of those fires in homes happened because decorations were too close to a heat source. Forty-one percent of these incidents were started by candles. These fires caused an estimated average of one civilian death, 41 civilian injuries and $13 million in direct property damage per year.
With Halloween just a few days away, follow these tips to ensure your trick-or-treaters have a fun and safe holiday.
- Choose costumes and decorations that are flame-resistance or flame-retardant, and avoid placing flammable materials such as hay bales, corn stalks and paper decorations near a heat source, including light bulbs and heaters.
- Keep exits clear of decorations and props so nothing blocks escape routes.
- Use battery-operated candles in jack-o-lanterns and when decorating pathways and yards.
- Set a reminder to blow out any candles and unplug lights.
- Use a single extension cord that is the right length for your outdoor lights and decorations. Do not connect multiple cords.
- Teach your children who are going to parties and haunted houses to look for the exits and have a way out in case of an emergency.
- Cross the street at corners, using traffic signals and crosswalks.
- Look left, right and left again when crossing and keep looking as you cross.
- Put electronic devices down and keep heads up and walk, don’t run, across the street.
- Teach children to make eye contact with drivers before crossing in front of them.
- Always walk on sidewalks or paths. If there are no sidewalks, walk facing traffic as far to
the left as possible. Children should walk on direct routes with the fewest street crossings.
- Watch for cars that are turning or backing up. Teach children to never dart out into the street or cross between parked cars.
Trick or Treat with an Adult
- Children under the age of 12 should not be alone at night without adult supervision. If kids are mature enough to be out without supervision, they should stick to familiar areas that are well lit and trick-or-treat in groups.
Keep Costumes Both Creative and Safe
- When choosing a costume, stay away from long trailing fabric. Purchase only ones that are labeled flame-resistant or flame-retardant.
- Decorate costumes and bags with reflective tape or stickers and, if possible, choose light colors.
- Choose face paint and makeup whenever possible instead of masks, which can obstruct a child’s vision.
- Have kids carry glow sticks or flashlights to help them see and be seen by drivers.
- When selecting a costume, make sure it is the right size to prevent trips and falls.
Drive Extra Safely on Halloween
- Slow down and be especially alert in residential neighborhoods. Children are excited on Halloween and may move in unpredictable ways.
- Take extra time to look for kids at intersections, on medians and on curbs.
- Enter and exit driveways and alleys slowly and carefully.
- Eliminate any distractions inside your car so you can concentrate on the road and your surroundings.
- Drive slowly, anticipate heavy pedestrian traffic and turn your headlights on earlier in the day to spot children from greater distances.
- Popular trick-or-treating hours are 5:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m., so be especially alert for kids during those hours.
For more tips on how to keep kids safe on Halloween and throughout the year, visit www.safekids.org.