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Trick or treat! For kids, it’s exciting and scary—and fun. And as adults, it’s our job to keep this holiday as safe as possible. A study by the Center for Disease Control found that with so many kids on the streets, the potential for automobile-related accidents is four times greater on Halloween than on other nights. With that thought in mind, here are some simple strategies we can follow to keep trick-or-treaters safe—and avoid accidents at home or on the road.
- If you will be welcoming trick-or-treaters to your home, keep the lights on as a welcome signal. Be sure to remove objects that could pose a tripping hazard from your lawn, walkway, and steps.
- With so many witches, ghosts, vampires and other characters filling the streets, it’s important to drive even more defensively than usual—especially around curves, near driveways, and at intersections.
- Driving below the speed limit in neighborhoods gives you more time to apply your brakes if a child should dart out from between parked cars or a group of kids makes an impulsive decision to race across the street.
- Observe the ‘no cell phone while driving’ rule. While it may be tempting to stay in touch with your child as you follow him or her through a neighborhood, it’s especially distracting on this night.
- Remind your children of basic safety rules: Stay on the sidewalk. If there is no sidewalk, stay to the left side of the road facing oncoming traffic. Don’t horse around with your friends. Be careful crossing the street. Don’t step out between parked cars.
- Dress your children in bright costumes and add reflective tape or give them glow sticks or flashlights to increase their visibility for passing drivers.
- Consider substituting facial makeup for masks that could obscure a child’s breathing or vision. If you do use makeup, check the labeling for government approval and follow instructions for safe application.
- Be sure that a parent—or an older, responsible youth—accompanies pre-teens. Just in case they get separated from the adults, it’s a good idea to pin your child’s name, address, and phone number inside a pocket.
- For older children, work with them to map out a route through familiar neighborhoods. Make sure they have a preprogrammed cell phone and check in at regular intervals. Establish a curfew.
- Instruct children not to enter homes or apartments without adult supervision.
- Warn children never to get in a car or go anywhere with a stranger. If a stranger asks them for help looking for a lost child or puppy or offers them candy, have them scream as loudly as they can and run.
- If you take your kids to a Halloween party sponsored by a community group, be sure to keep an eye on them at all times. Avoid joining the ranks of the people you’ve seen on television saying, “But he was only out of my sight for a moment.”
- Remind children not to eat candy or treats until you’ve had a chance to check them out—preferably after they return home. Since all that candy will surely be tempting, it’s a good idea to have them eat dinner before setting out.
From all of us at Mid-State Insurance, our Halloween message comes down to this: Have fun and stay safe.