It’s that time of year when kids start to imagine what they’ll dress up as for Halloween. In fact, more than 41 million kids between the ages of 5 and 14 head door to door each year to trick-or-treat.
Because of this, hospitals see an influx of emergency room visits from those navigating the busy streets on this holiday. Fortunately, there are several things that you can do to make sure your child stays safe this Halloween.
Start with the Costumes
Before your kids even hit the sidewalk, there are things that you can do to ensure a happy and healthy holiday.
While elaborate costumes can be fun, they can also be dangerous. It’s important to make sure your children’s costumes fit properly to avoid trips and falls. Footwear is critical, so try to find shoes that fit well. Look for Velcro straps or double knot the laces. If possible, try to incorporate reflective tape or stickers and opt for light colors versus dark.
Masks can be a big hindrance for children, so face paint and makeup are typically better.
To enhance visibility, glow sticks and flashlights are great options.
Stay Off the Streets
Just because it’s Halloween doesn’t mean it’s safe to walk on the street. Encourage your children to stay on the sidewalk as much as possible. If a sidewalk isn’t available, instruct them to walk on the side of the road and always face traffic.
When they do need to cross the street, emphasize the importance of using traffic signals and crosswalks, and remind them to always look left, look right, then look left again. Explain how to watch for cars that are turning or backing up.
Map Out Your Route
Whether you’re planning to walk with your children or send them out on their own, having a mapped route is a good plan. Well-lit areas that don’t have much traffic are usually safest, as are areas with plenty of other trick-or-treaters.
If your kids will be going out with friends, make sure you know where they plan to walk and that they are familiar with the area. There is nothing scarier on a busy night like Halloween than lost children!
Embrace Safety in Numbers
While children under 10 years of age should be accompanied by an adult, the buddy system is one of the best ways to keep older children safe on Halloween. Typically, a group of two or more friends is ideal.
Many communities will put on a kid-friendly Halloween event too, like trunk-or-treat, where children trick-or-treat out of the trunks of parents’ cars. These local events are great options.
If your kids to go out with a group of friends, reiterate how important it is to only visit homes with an outdoor light on and that it is never OK to go inside someone’s home. Giving your kids a cellphone for the night will allow you can communicate with them regularly.
Sort Through the Stash
It’s no secret that your children will be eager to dive into their treat stash after getting home, but it’s a good idea to look through everything first.
If you find something that looks suspicious or appears to have been tampered with, it’s best to throw it out. Sorting through your kids’ candy is also a good way to make sure they aren’t consuming too much in one night.
Take Caution Behind the Wheel
Be sure to drive extra slowly and cautiously on Halloween night—especially in residential neighborhoods. Most kids go trick-or-treating between 5:30 and 9:30 p.m., so it’s important to be extra alert during these times.
Kids will be excited to be out and about, and you never know when someone may run out into the street. Always come to a complete stop at intersections, and enter and exit your driveway and alley slower than you normally would.
Keep Your Home Safe
If you have carved a pumpkin, consider using a flashlight or glow stick instead of a candle to prevent a fire. For pumpkins that are lit by a candle, be sure they are placed on a sturdy surface, such as a table, away from curtains and other flammable objects.
Keep your house well lit, even if you don’t plan to give out treats. Since outdoor lights typically indicate that your home is open to trick-or-treaters, turn them off if you don’t plan to hand out candy, but keep indoor lights on.
If you notice any suspicious activity outside your home, call the police. Teens have been known to use Halloween night to vandalize and cause chaos.
Try to Stay as Healthy as Possible
Before you send your kids out for the evening, prepare a healthy meal that is high in protein, fruits and veggies. This will keep your kids from getting hungry and filling up on sugary treats.
For trick-or-treaters, consider giving out healthy treats like popcorn, pretzels or trail mix. (Trust us, parents will thank you!)
If one of your children gets injured or ill on Halloween night, your local CareNow® is available to help. Because most Halloween accidents occur after typical doctor hours, CareNow® is a convenient option that is open after hours.
To limit your wait time at our urgent care facilities, be sure to use the Web Check-In® feature.
Disclaimer: Patients’ health can vary. Always consult with a medical professional before taking medication, making health-related decisions or deciding if medical advice is right for you.