The Medical Minute: There's no trick to a safe Halloween

October 22, 2008 By Susan Rzucidlo

Halloween is supposed to be a spooky night, but parents don’t have to be scared about their kids’ safety if they follow some simple safety tips from Safe Kids Dauphin County, led by Penn State Hershey Children’s Hospital, Penn State Milton S. Hershey Medical Center. It’s essential for parents to prepare their children properly to stay safe while trick-or-treating. According to Susan Rzucidlo, pediatric trauma program manager and coordinator for Safe Kids Dauphin County, “roughly four times as many children ages 5-14 are killed while walking on Halloween evening compared with other evenings of the year."

With the days getting shorter, children are likely to be trick-or-treating in the dark, when it is harder for drivers to see them, and the excitement of the holiday can make everyone less cautious. To keep kids safe, parents should remind them about walking safely and ensure that they will be seen by drivers this Halloween.

Tips for Parents

Safe Kids recommends that children under age 10 do not trick-or-treat without adult supervision. If kids are mature enough to go trick-or-treating without supervision, make sure they go in a group and they stick to a predetermined route with good lighting. Parents must also remind kids to:

Cross streets safely. Cross at a corner, using traffic signals and crosswalks. Try to make eye contact with drivers before crossing in front of them. Look left, right and left again when crossing, and keep looking as you cross. Walk, don’t run, across the street.
Walk on well-lit sidewalks or paths. If there are no sidewalks, walk facing traffic as far to the left as possible. Children should walk in familiar areas with minimal street crossings.
Be a safe pedestrian around cars. Watch for cars that are turning or backing up. Never dart out into the street or cross between parked cars.
Make sure treats are safe treats. Tell children to bring their treats home before eating them. Parents should check treats to ensure that items have not been tampered with and are safely sealed. Be careful with fruit. Inspect the surface closely for punctures or holes and cut it open before allowing a child to eat it.

Tips for Drivers

Drivers need to do their part to keep trick-or-treaters safe from harm. Safe Kids also reminds motorists to be extra careful this Halloween and recommends that drivers:

Be especially alert. Remember that popular trick-or-treating hours are during the typical rush-hour period between 5:30 and 9:30 p.m.
Drive more slowly. Slow down and anticipate heavier than usual pedestrian traffic.
Turn lights on. Be sure to drive with your vehicle's full headlights on so you can spot children from greater distances.

Costumes with Safety in Mind

Costumes should be flame retardant and bright enough to make children more visible.
Make costumes short enough to avoid tripping. Decorate costumes and treat bags with retroreflective tape and stickers.
Dress children in shoes that fit. Wearing adult shoes can lead to falls.
Allow children to carry only flexible knives, swords or other props.
Avoid costumes made of flimsy material and outfits with big, baggy sleeves or billowing skirts. These are more likely to come in contact with an exposed flame, such as a candle, than tighter fitting costumes.
Apply face paint or cosmetics directly to the face. If a mask is worn, be certain it fits securely. Cut the eyeholes large enough for full vision.

For more tips on how to keep kids safe while walking on Halloween and throughout the year, visit www.usa.safekids.org/wtw/halloween2008.html .

Provided by Penn State

Explore further: Encouraging risk-taking in children may reduce the prevalence of childhood anxiety

Related Stories

Encouraging risk-taking in children may reduce the prevalence of childhood anxiety

December 13, 2017
A new international study suggests that parents who employ challenging parent behavioural (CPB) methods – active physical and verbal behaviours that encourage children to push their limits – are likely protecting their ...

Injuries from window blinds send two children to the emergency department every day

December 11, 2017
Most homes have them. They help keep our rooms warm or cold and even add a pop of color to tie the décor together. But window blinds can cause serious injuries or even death to young children. A new study from the Center ...

Opioid crisis strains foster system as kids pried from homes

December 12, 2017
The case arrives with all the routine of a traffic citation: A baby boy, just 4 days old and exposed to heroin in his mother's womb, is shuddering through withdrawal in intensive care, his fate now here in a shabby courthouse ...

Drug increases speed, safety of treatment for multiple food allergies

December 11, 2017
In a randomized, controlled phase-2 clinical trial, an asthma medication increased the speed and safety of a protocol used to treat children for several food allergies at once, according to a study by researchers at the Stanford ...

The pediatric submersion score predicts children at low risk for injury following submersions

November 28, 2017
A risk score can identify children at low risk for submersion-related injury who can be safely discharged from the ED after observation. That is the primary finding of a study to be published in the December 2017 issue of ...

'We could do a better job': U of T expert on new guidelines about physical activity for kids under four

November 23, 2017
Experts have been saying for decades that Canadians are in the midst of an inactivity crisis. A new report released this week looks at the lives of babies and toddlers and concludes that they are far too sedentary and get ...

Recommended for you

Searching for a link between achy joints and rainy weather in a flood of data, researchers come up dry

December 13, 2017
Rainy weather has long been blamed for achy joints. Unjustly so, according to new research from Harvard Medical School. The analysis, published Dec. 13 in BMJ, found no relationship between rainfall and joint or back pain.

Mistletoe and (a large) wine: Seven-fold increase in wine glass size over 300 years

December 13, 2017
Our Georgian and Victorian ancestors probably celebrated Christmas with more modest wine consumption than we do today - if the size of their wine glasses are anything to go by. Researchers at the University of Cambridge have ...

How well can digital assistants answer questions on sex?

December 13, 2017
Google laptop searches seem to be better at finding quality online sexual health advice than digital assistants on smartphones, find experts in the Christmas issue of The BMJ.

Healthy eating linked to kids' happiness

December 13, 2017
Healthy eating is associated with better self-esteem and fewer emotional and peer problems, such as having fewer friends or being picked on or bullied, in children regardless of body weight, according to a study published ...

Owning a pet does not seem to influence signs of aging

December 13, 2017
Owning a pet does not appear to slow the rate of ageing, as measured by standard indicators, suggest the authors of a study published in the Christmas issue of The BMJ.

Increased air pollution linked to bad teenage behavior

December 13, 2017
A new study linking higher levels of air pollution to increased teenage delinquency is a reminder of the importance of clean air and the need for more foliage in urban spaces, a Keck School of Medicine of USC researcher said.

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.