Halloween 2021: A Do-Over
The pandemic changed our lives in ways too numerous to list, and while a bummer of a Halloween in 2020 was hardly the end of the world, it was a serious disappointment for the young and the young at heart throughout the great State of Texas (and the nation at large). Things are looking up a bit this year, and children everywhere are preparing to get out there and do some trick-or-treating. The goal is to have a whole lot of fun while staying safe, and fortunately, there are some useful safety tips that can help you do just that.
The CDC Provides Guidance
The director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) was interviewed in late September about the prospects for Halloween this year, and – according to CNBC – she signaled that it’s safe to proceed with a whole lot of enthusiasm and a good measure of caution. The key takeaways include:
Your kids should be safe going trick or treating this year as long as you keep things outside.
Keeping your group of trick or treaters small is an important safety measure.
Avoiding large groups outside is well advised.
Giving indoor parties a pass is prudent.
When asked if she thought kids would be able to return to the well-loved practice of trick or treating this year, the director shared, I certainly hope so, and with that, she expressed the thoughts of kids, parents, and Halloween lovers everywhere. In another pandemic-related boost, Pfizer announced that its vaccines for children aged 5 to 11 should be approved and ready to roll in the very near future.
Keeping the Costumes Safe
After a year without Halloween – for all intents and purposes – kids and adults alike are gearing up to go big in the costume department this year. It is important, however, to keep your children’s costumes as safe as possible while allowing their imaginations to soar. When it comes to costumes and safety, keep all of the following in mind:
Make sure that your children’s costumes fit them well and are comfortable to wear. Costumes that are overly large or are too long can pose tripping risks, and if the costume is unwieldy, it can prove similarly dangerous.
Halloween masks that cover the entire face can obscure your children’s vision. Opting for nontoxic makeup is a better option – and if you can work one of the masks that have become part of our new normal into the costume, all the better.
If you’re using makeup to paint your child’s face, do not forget to test for sensitivities prior to Halloween, and be sure to gently wash the makeup away prior to your children’s bedtime.
Halloween is the one night of the year when your young ones are likely to be out on foot after dark. As such, you should incorporate a piece of reflective outerwear into their costumes, attach reflective tape to their outerwear, or ensure each child carries a lit flashlight or glow stick that gives motorists a better chance of seeing them.
When it comes to Halloween, pedestrian safety has to be your primary focus.
The Sobering Statistics
Statistics far and wide agree that children are far more likely to be fatally injured in pedestrian accidents on Halloween than on any other evening of the year. Sperling’s BestPlaces conducted exhaustive research on the matter (spanning 21 years of data from 1990 to 2010) regarding children aged 0 to 18.
The Deadliest Day
The average number of daily pedestrian fatalities for children in the United States is 2.6, but on Halloween, this average rate more than doubles, jumping to 5.5.
The Deadliest Hour
Nearly a quarter of all the fatal Halloween pedestrian accidents happened from 6 to 7 PM, and more than 60 percent of these accidents happened in the four hours from 5 to 9 PM.
Outside of Crosswalks
The vast majority (over 70 percent) of these deadly Halloween pedestrian accidents occurred outside of crosswalks and intersections (where motorists are better prepared to stop).
Kids on Their Own
The group of children most likely to be fatally wounded on Halloween is in the age group of from 12 to 15 – who make up nearly a third of the total pedestrian fatalities. This is also the age group that is most likely to be trick or treating without an adult. Children aged from 5 to 8 are the next most at-risk age group.
It’s not just the youthful pedestrians out there who turn up the heat on Halloween pedestrian statistics – it’s also the youthful drivers. Motorists aged 15 to 25 are a full third more likely to cause fatal pedestrian accidents involving children on Halloween. If your teen is driving this Halloween, take the time to carefully discuss the inherent pedestrian dangers involved.
Halloween: No Time for Driver Negligence
Driver negligence is always dangerous, and it leaves all of us at increased risk of being injured in traffic accidents of all kinds, including pedestrian accidents. Driver negligence in residential areas on Halloween is far more likely to prove deadly, and unfortunately, it comes in far too many dangerous varieties.
The Rules of the Road
One of the most common forms of driver negligence is simply failing to adhere to the rules of the road. This includes rules such as adhering to the speed limit, coming to a full stop at stop signs, and much more. It is also every driver’s responsibility to drive safely in relation to what is happening on the road, and on Halloween, every motorist should expect the unexpected, including children in costumes who may dart into the road from just about anywhere. Prudent drivers will keep their speeds low and will remain hyper-aware this Halloween.
When a driver has his or her nose in a phone – or is engaged in any other kind of distraction – he or she makes the road a more dangerous place (especially for pedestrians). Distracted drivers and trick or treaters are a perfect storm. If you’re on the road this Halloween, focus on driving, put your phone away, and be on the lookout for small ghosts and goblins in your midst.
Kids aren’t the only ones who love Halloween, and after the letdown of 2020, adult revelers are also likely gearing up to go for the gusto this year. While treats are great, far too many adults are more interested in having a drink or two, and this can translate to impaired driving. If your Halloween is focused on getting together with friends this year, it’s a good idea to keep the numbers low (COVID-19 continues to pose a considerable threat) and to make alternate transportation plans if you’re looking forward to witches brew. There is no room for errors of this kind on Halloween.
Although watching your speed goes along with following the rules of the road, it deserves a mention of its own. Speeding not only makes accidents more likely but also makes them more dangerous. If you’re behind the wheel this Halloween, make it your mission to slow down on every residential street you travel. The risk is simply too great that a trick or treater will surprise you, and keeping your speed low is the best way to protect them.
Proceed with Caution
Some safety tips for Driving on Halloween forwarded by the National Safety Council (NSC) include:
Keep your eyes peeled for children who may have wandered away from their parents and for older kids who are too excited to engage in the necessary level of impulse control.
Watch for children who are walking in the road, who are dashing across the road, and/or who are on medians or curbs.
Be extremely cautious when pulling into or out of driveways, alleys, and parking lots.
Decrease your speed and be on the lookout for children cloaked in dark costumes.
Make it your mission to keep young drivers off the road – give your teens a lift to where they need to be.
Trick or Treat!
Once you’re ready to head out with your children trick or treating – or for your older kids to head out on their own – it’s important to keep all of the following safety tips in mind:
If your children are younger than 12, they need to be accompanied by a responsible adult for the entire outing.
Before you head out with young children, go over the rules of staying safe out there, including making it clear only to cross the street with you.
Teach your children of every age never to enter a stranger’s home or vehicle.
Remind your children not to dig into their candy bags until they’ve arrived home and you’ve checked for any irregularities.
Children should not go out without an adult until they are at least 12 and should stick to small groups, which helps reduce COVID-related risks and helps keep things more manageable.
If you have older kids who are going out unaccompanied, speak with them meaningfully about staying safe, including the rules of pedestrian safety outlined below.
For your older kids, establish a time that they are required to be home and make sure they understand this important responsibility.
Finally, while pedestrian safety is always important, Halloween is a great time to review the most important basics with your children, including all the following:
Walk on the sidewalk the entire time you are out on foot – except when crossing the street.
When crossing the street, look left, right, and left again to make sure it is safe to proceed.
Your older children should plan a familiar route for Halloween that is well lit and that requires a minimum number of street crossings.
When on foot, always cross at crosswalks or intersections – with stop signs whenever possible (in residential areas).
Wear comfortable, well-fitting walking shoes that provide you with the traction you need and that reduce the risk of tripping and falling.
When out after dark – such as on Halloween – make sure that you are visible to motorists by wearing a piece of reflective outerwear or by carrying a flashlight (or wearing a glow stick necklace or bracelet).
Always cross the street in groups whenever possible, which makes it easier for motorists to spot you.
Never cross the road in the middle of the block, between parked cars, from alleys or entrances, or from anywhere other than an intersection or designated crosswalk.
Be especially careful when motorists are making turns, are backing up, or are pulling into parking spots or destinations.
Before crossing the street, make eye contact with the motorist in the car you are crossing in front of.
It’s Halloween, and there is plenty to celebrate. Unlike last year, the CDC has given us the go-ahead to get out and have some fun – as long as you keep it outdoors and keep your groups small. Your little ones are raring to go, and once you’ve checked their costumes for safety, have ensured they’re visible to motorists, and have carefully reviewed pedestrian safety with them, they should be ready to take to the sidewalks and have some good old-fashioned and safe Halloween fun – and that is something we can all appreciate.