Tips for keeping kids safe on Halloween

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On a potentially dangerous night of the year for child pedestrians, Safe Kids Snohomish County urges 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 Shawneri Guzman, coordinator of Safe Kids Snohomish County.  “Many kids will be out trick-or-treating while it is dark and thus more difficult for drivers to see them. ”

Guzman offered several simple and effective behaviors that parents can share with kids to help reduce their risk or injury. “Children younger than age 12 should not be alone crossing streets without an adult,,” she said.  “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.”

 Here are the top safety tips that Safe Kids Snohomish County 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 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.

Drivers need to be extra alert as there will be more children on the streets and sidewalks – and may also be focused on gathering candy and the excitement of the holiday. Here are some safety tips for drivers:

– Slow down in residential neighborhoods and school zones. 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.

– Slowly and carefully enter and exit driveways and alleys.

– 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,”  Guzman said.  “Remind children to only eat treats in original and unopened wrappers.”

For more tips on how to help kids become safer pedestrians on Halloween and throughout the year, visit www.safekids.org.

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