Paul M. D'Amore
Kids across Baltimore are already gearing up to hit the streets this Halloween, strategizing the best costumes and neighborhood routes to collect the most candy possible in only a few hours. However, while kids are planning the fun, parents should be preparing for safety. There are a number of dangers that accompany Halloween posing serious harm to children and other holiday enthusiasts out for the night. Knowing what to plan for and how to stay safe can help ensure everyone makes it home in one piece after their epic Halloween celebrations.
Pedestrian and Road Dangers
Maryland has already seen 11 pedestrian fatalities in October and we haven’t even hit the most popular night of the month for pedestrians on the streets. Research published by the National Safety Council (NSC) revealed that kids are twice as likely to be struck and killed by a vehicle on Halloween compared to any other night of the year. Dark streets, limited visibility, increased distractions, and unsupervised children dashing across roads are all contributing factors to the uptick in car accidents on Halloween- all which can cause serious or fatal injuries on a night meant for fun.
With millions of kids across the country participating in trick-or-treating this year, drivers and pedestrians should both be on high alert to help reduce the number of pedestrian road accidents. NSC offers these tips for trick-or-treaters and drivers on Halloween to help keep everyone safer on the road:
- Young children should be supervised by an adult when trick-or-treating.
- Keep your kids in well-lit areas where there is plenty of room to walk on the side of the road or sidewalks.
- Make sure to always cross at crosswalks on busy roads.
- Put down electronic devices so you can stay alert to road traffic.
- Teach your kids basic traffic rules before you head out (look both ways, walk against traffic, stay to the side of the street, etc.)
- Don’t assume drivers see you. Try to make eye contact and wait to cross if it appears they are not paying attention.
- Use flashlights, glow sticks, or reflective clothing to draw a driver’s attention to you on the road.
- Go out in larger groups that can easily be spotted.
- Keep a close eye out for an increased number of pedestrians after the trick-or-treating times begin in your neighborhood.
- Stay alert at intersections, roadways, medians, and curbs for pedestrians crossing.
- Discourage new or inexperienced drivers from driving on the roads this Halloween.
- Don’t drink and drive.
- Enter and exit driveways, alleys, and parking lots carefully.
- Limit distractions in the vehicle, including electronics.
Could there be razor blades in your child’s candy this year? We’d like to think not. But that doesn’t mean parents and children should let their guard down when it comes to keeping an eye on treats they find in their bags. While your children are unlikely to come across candy that has been tampered with, there are other hazards that can cause your children to become sick or injured that parents should be looking for:
- Small candies and gum: These treats could cause young children to choke if they consume them without parental supervision or understanding of how to eat them.
- Homemade or unwrapped treats: Tampering could be a fear, but what is more likely with these items is the risk of foodborne illnesses from improper handling or exposure to bacteria.
- Hard candies: Children who are not used to hard candies may bite down and break their teeth without knowing to suck on the candy.
- Allergic reactions: If a child has a serious allergy to peanuts or other ingredients, they could be in serious danger if they are snacking on candy without reading or knowing how to read the ingredients used.
The Health Department of Anne Arundel County released a Halloween safety article encouraging children not to eat treats until an adult is present and has inspected the treats for any of the hazards above. If parents are concerned with their kids sneaking candy while out and about, they should hold onto the treat bag between houses so they can keep an eye on their child’s snacking habits.
The article also encouraged teens and older children who go out unsupervised not to enter a stranger’s home on Halloween, no matter how enticing the Halloween display or treat may seem. Kids should only enter the homes of friends and family members they trust and always keep their parents informed of their route ahead of time to provide a safeguard in the case of an emergency.
Your child’s costume may look the best, but certain features could put them at risk of getting more injuries than admiring looks. Masks, wigs, long fabrics, metal accessories, toxic makeup, glasses, contacts, and impractical footwear can all lead to the possibility of injuries, particularly if they are obstructing a person’s ability to see or walk properly. Costumes that are dark in color can also be dangerous, making it hard for cars to see your children when they are walking on the side of the road at night.
For parents looking for creative and safe costume tips this Halloween, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) offers these suggestions:
- Add bright and reflective features to costumes or trick-or-treat bags.
- Wear comfortable fitting shoes.
- Keep costumes short to avoid tripping, entanglement or even catching on fire.
- Use non-toxic makeup in place of masks to limit obstructions.
- Wear properly fitting hats to avoid sliding over the eyes.
- Test makeup on a small portion of skin to avoid a serious allergic reaction.
- Buy flame resistant products and accessories.
- Do not use sharp accessories that could cause injuries in the case of a fall.
- Avoid decorative lenses that could cause eye damage and irritation.
Home Trip and Fall Risks
Halloween is best enjoyed at night. Unfortunately, the darkness and other general qualities of the season can pose a number of obstacles trick-or-treaters could easily hurt themselves tripping over or on. AAP lists these as the most common home and sidewalk hazards causing fall injuries on Halloween:
- porch decorations
- large inflatables anchored with wires/ropes
- yard decorations
- wet leaves
- poorly lit porches, decks, stairs, driveways
- garden hoses
- outdoor toys and bikes
Parents should help their young kids keep an eye out for these hazards and try to remove them from their own properties before the trick-or-treaters head out for the night.
Have Fun and Be Safe
We wish all Baltimore families a happy and safe Halloween this year. Stay alert, don’t take risks, and enjoy the spooky festivities around the city!