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On a potentially dangerous night of the year for child pedestrians, Safe Kids USA and FedEx urge parents to prepare children to act safely and drivers to take extra precautions. On average, twice as many kids are killed while walking on Halloween compared to other days of the year.
“Kids need proper safety instruction before they go out trick-or-treating,” says Daphne Greenlee, Coordinator of Safe Kids Springfield and Outreach Coordinator at St. John’s Hospital. “Many kids will be out trick-or-treating while it is dark when it is more difficult for drivers to see them. There are several easy and effective behaviors that parents can share with kids to help reduce their risk of injury. For example, children younger than age 12 should not be alone crossing streets on Halloween without an adult. If older kids are mature enough to go trick-or-treating without adult supervision, parents should make sure they go in a group and stick to a predetermined route with good lighting.”
In preparation for Halloween, Safe Kids Springfield will team up with Walk This Way program sponsor FedEx to provide kids with reflective materials to promote visibility, including zipper tags that can be attached to costumes and trick-or-treat bags, as well as important safety information to children, parents, and drivers.
Drivers need to be extra alert as there will be more children on the streets and sidewalks – and those kids may be focused on gathering candy and the excitement of the holiday rather than being careful while crossing streets. “Safe Kids and FedEx urge drivers to slow down on neighborhood roads to make Halloween more enjoyable for everyone, but also to help save lives,” added Greenlee.
Top safety tips Safe Kids USA recommends for parents:
Cross the street safely at corners, using traffic signals and crosswalks. Look left, right and left again when crossing and keep looking as you cross. Walk, don’t run, across the street.
Walk on sidewalks or paths. If there are no sidewalks, walk facing traffic as far to the left as possible. Children should walk on direct routes with the fewest street crossings.
Slow down and stay alert – watch out for cars that are turning or backing up and never dart out into the street or cross in between parked cars.
Costumes can be both creative and safe. Decorate costumes and bags with reflective tape or stickers and, if possible, choose light colors. Masks can obstruct a child’s vision, so choose non-toxic face paint and make-up whenever possible instead. Have kids carry glow sticks or flashlights in order to see better, as well as be seen by drivers.
Top safety tips Safe Kids USA and FedEx recommend for drivers:
Slow down in residential neighborhoods. Remember that popular trick-or-treating hours are 5:30 to 9:30 p.m.
Be especially alert and take extra time to look for kids at intersections, on medians and on curbs. Children are excited on Halloween and may move in unpredictable ways.
Reduce any distractions inside your car, such as talking on the phone or eating, so you can concentrate on the road and your surroundings.
While pedestrian safety is a main concern on Halloween, parents and kids should also be careful when dealing with candy. “While kids never want to wait to dive into their candy, it is best to check sweets for signs of tampering before children are allowed to eat them,” says Greenlee. “Remind children to only eat treats in original and unopened wrappers.”
In 1999, Safe Kids Worldwide and program sponsor FedEx created the Safe Kids Walk This Way program in the United States to teach safe behaviors to motorists and child pedestrians and create safer, more walkable communities. Every day, more than 80,000 FedEx vehicles are on the road, sharing the streets with pedestrians, fueling the company’s dedication to pedestrian safety and sharing the lessons of safe driving that FedEx has learned over the past 35-plus years. Over the past 12 years, the Walk This Way program has expanded to include Brazil, Canada, China, India, South Korea, Thailand, Vietnam, and the Philippines where it has educated more than 4 million children.
Safe Kids Springfield works to prevent unintentional childhood injury, the leading cause of death and disability to children ages 1 to 14 in southwest Missouri. Safe Kids Springfield is a member of Safe Kids Worldwide, a global network of organizations dedicated to preventing unintentional injury. Safe Kids Springfield was founded in 1989 and is led by St. John’s Hospital. For more tips on how to help kids become safer pedestrians on Halloween, as well as throughout the year, visit www.safekidsspringfield.org.