After waiting a whole year, Halloween is here again and the kids are anxiously awaiting the hour when they can don their costumes and run from home to home collecting all sorts of sugary treats. Some of the best childhood photos involve a child wearing a costume and grinning from ear-to-ear, often thanks to a sugar high or the anticipation of treats to come. For parents, the fun is often contagious, and people of all ages enjoy greeting trick-or-treaters at the door and handing out something sweet. Before the fun begins, our Panama City injury law firm wanted to take a moment to remind readers about Halloween safety.
We want Halloween to be safe and fun for all ages. However, the reality is that it can be a dangerous time. Last year, SafeKids Worldwide, a global network dedicated to preventing unintentional injury to children, released a report on Halloween safety. The authors noted that a whopping 89% of surveyed parents said their child or children take part in Halloween activities, with 73% going trick-or-treating. This increase in foot traffic, not surprisingly, causes accidents. According to their sources, more than twice as many children die in pedestrian/vehicle accidents between 4 P.M. and 10 P.M. on October 31 than during the same time frame on a typical night.
Making Halloween safe requires cooperation from children (and parents!) as well as those driving during celebrations. Parents should accompany children under age 12 and talk with older children about safety before sending them out to enjoy the evening (the study suggests only 35% of parents talk to their kids about Halloween safety on an annual basis). Trick-or-treaters should practice safe pedestrian behavior, including always walking on sidewalks where provided, and walking on the far left side of the street to face traffic when one is not available. They should obey all traffic signals and cross at corners, looking both ways before crossing.
Drivers should also take special care when travelling on Halloween. It is important to slow down and be alert, especially when driving in a residential area. Remember that children can be unpredictable at any time, and even more so when they are excited. Drivers should expect increased pedestrian traffic and should turn on headlights early to help increase visibility. Stay alert and focused – distracted driving is even riskier than normal on October 31.
For many kids, it is hard to decide which is more fun: the costumes or the treats? Both are also areas where safety is key. Parents should make sure costumes do not impede visibility and allow the child to move freely. Where possible, include reflective elements in the costume or (i.e. reflective tape on treat bags). Avoid elements that could be dangerous themselves, like swords or sticks that could cause injury during rough play or if a child falls on the item. Although statistics show that tainted candy is actually quite rare, it is still smart for parents to check for tampering and to throw out any candy where the wrapper is torn or lack a wrapper at all.
The Pittman Firm wishes everyone a happy and safe Halloween. As always, if an accident does occur and someone else's negligence causes injury to you or your child, please call our office. Remember that the law does not require perfection – your child may still be entitled to damages if he/she failed to be a perfect pedestrian.