Now that all of your flannels have broken out, Fall has officially begun. The candy aisle at the supermarkets are growing and Halloween seems to be right around the corner. If you are a parent to young children, you are likely making arrangements to take your child trick-or-treating. If you are a parent with a teenager, they might have plans to go out that night. Whether or not this is the case, there are extra precautionary measures that all of us can take on Halloween to create a safe environment for kids and teens.
Halloween Costume Choice
Costume’s can actually play a big role in contributing to a safer Halloween for your child. Visibility is the biggest concern when it comes to trick-or-treating. It’s important that your child can see and can be seen by others.
When choosing a costume, it’s best to choose face paint or wear a hat as opposed to wearing a mask. Masks often have pre-cut holes for the eyes and can possibly obstruct your child’s vision if the mask doesn’t fit the head properly. Try to avoid having your child dress in all black or dark colors without having something bright and reflective (glow-sticks, reflective tape) so that they can be visible to you and to drivers. It’s important to mention the size of your child’s costume should fit him or her properly. A costume that is too big could cause your child to slip and fall.
You Are a Parent Going Trick-or-Treating
Pedestrian Safety is especially important around this time of year. The amount of pedestrians on the sidewalks and roads are significantly higher on Halloween. According to safekids.org on average, twice as many child pedestrians are killed than any other day of the year.
That being said, if you are a parent, you can have control over your kids safety by being present while your child is trick-or-treating. We feel that children under 12 years old should be accompanied by a parent or a trusted adult. Here are the most important measures to walk safely with your child.
- Use Crosswalks – Crosswalks are linked to traffic lights and are the safest way to cross the street. As is the case with many residential streets, if there is no crosswalk you should still go to the corner of the street where there is high visibility and use the traffic lights to indicate when you should cross the street.
- Use Sidewalks – This is the safest route to go house to house. However, if there is no sidewalk, walk to each house facing traffic.
- Teach your child pedestrian safety – This is extremely valuable especially as they get older and may want to trick-or-treat on their own one day. Teach your kids to always look both ways (left, right and left again) before crossing the street. Teach them to make eye contact with drivers when they’re about to cross the street. You should also tell them that they should never dart across the street and to always stay visible to you.
Your Child is Going Trick-or-Treating Without You
If you feel that your child is old enough to go trick-or-treating without an adult (again we believe the child should be over 12), it’s important to teach your children all of the safety precautions that you would look out for if you were present. Show them the importance of crosswalks and sidewalks and to be attentive to their surroundings.
It isn’t a bad idea to set ground rules for your kid. Make it a rule that the child never goes completely alone. Make sure your child is going with friends that you personally know and encourage them to stick together as a group. Having your child go with at least 2 friends is a good idea so that they can look out for each other. Some make it a rule to follow a specific pre-designated route so that the parents know exactly where their kid will be and avoid going anywhere dangerous.
In addition, if your child has a cell phone, remind them of how careful they need to be when using it during trick-or-treating. Encourage them to not walk and use their cell phone at the same time so that they can pay attention to their surroundings and to never use it when crossing the street. Cell phones have proven to be a real distraction for pedestrians especially for teens and young adults.
It is definitely a good idea to decide on a curfew for your child. If your child does not yet own a cell phone, you should get the cell phone number of one of the friends in the group. This is extremely important so that you know you can contact your child at any time.
Your Teen is Going Out
You’re teen may have outgrown trick-or-treating but still wants to go out on Halloween or the Halloween weekend. It is still important for parents to lay some ground rules for their teen so that they can be safe.
The most controlled and safe environment you can have is to host a Halloween event yourself if possible. Why not have a scary movie marathon or a bonfire in the backyard? If your teen likes the idea, this can guarantee a fun night for your teen and their friends and ease any stress as to what your teen is doing that night.
If this is not happening, you can still instill rules for your teen. Here are some suggestions of things you can do or discuss with your teen before they go out:
- Place a curfew – Explain to your teen ahead of time the consequences if they do not follow their curfew. Discuss with them what your plans are so that your curfew is both reasonable and safe.
- Discuss driving safety – One of the most important things to remind your teen is driving safety. It is especially important that they drive defensively. There are more cars on the road and a higher risk of drunk drivers. In 2015 in the US, there were 90 drunk driving deaths, making it the highest number of fatalities of any holiday. Give your teen tips to learn how to avoid the dangers of a drunk driver. If your teen is driving, this is a factor when considering their curfew. Some parents limit the number of friends in the car as well.
- Inform them of the law – Let your child know of the law especially when it comes to alcohol, trespassing, vandalism and town curfews. Informing them of the charges and possible jail time that go along with these violations can influence them to avoid doing something they would later regret. Remind them that on Halloween particularly, there are more cops around the neighborhood to keep the community safe.
- Talk to the host of the event – If your child is going to a friends house or to a party, it is a good idea to contact the parent of the house to make sure it is properly chaperoned.
- Stay in contact – Have a way of contacting them. Make sure they have their cell phone handy. Take the cell number of a friend in case they can’t reach if their phone dies or there’s no service.
- Monitor their Social Media & Messaging – Applications like Kidguard and Pumpic help parents monitor what their kids are up to and see their location.
Driving Safety During Halloween
If you are not a parent, there is still reason to be careful on Halloween. As a driver, it is your responsibility to be able to account for the increased amount of pedestrians on the street. Drivers need to drive slow and follow traffic laws especially in residential areas. There will be kids trick-or-treating on the streets. Kids are less predictable than your average pedestrian. Be careful and be prepared if a child suddenly darts across the street. This is even more important at night, as kids might be wearing dark colored costumes. Stop at every crosswalk regardless of whether or not you see someone.
Additionally, as mentioned earlier, there is an increased chance of encountering a drunk driver on the road. Take note of bizarre driving patterns that could indicate a driver is intoxicated. If you do believe you are sharing the road, pull over where it is safe. Do not try to escape the danger or be a hero and try and pull him over, let him leave. Then if possible, record information. Try to remember every detail you can including the car’s make, model, color and location. Call 911 and report the driver.
Content collaboration by Palermo Law: Protecting people who have been injured because of someone else’s poor decisions, such as an injury from a drunk driver. Located all over Long Island, New York to try to make the best of an unfortunate situation for their clients.