Halloween is one of the most anticipated holidays of the year. So many adults have wonderful memories of great costumes, trick or treating, Halloween parties and even (not pointing fingers) TP’ing many a house on Mischief Night. However, I have some very sobering statistics for you, and we need to talk about making Halloween Night a safe night for kids and adults. This year, Halloween falls on a Monday night, which ought to keep it an early one, but drunk driving deaths and injuries have been increasing on Halloween to the point where it rivals New Year’s Eve.
- 44 percent of fatal crashes nationwide during Halloween weekend involved a vehicle operator with a .08 or greater BAC.
- 23 percent of pedestrian fatalities on Halloween night involved a vehicle operator with a .08 or greater BAC.
- Children are at greater risk of being struck and killed by a car than any other day of the year, whether the driver is drunk or sober.
There are things you can do to make sure that everyone has a happy and safe Halloween, no matter how young or old. Here are just a few tips:
- An adult should always be with the kids, especially if they are under 12 years old. You may want to revise this for older kids, or offer them the chance to spend Halloween at a haunted house, amusement park, or host a chaperoned party at home.
- Older kids trick or treating should go with a group, stick to familiar areas, and check in by phone periodically.
- Be acutely aware of traffic when you are out trick or treating, and designate a trick-or-treating buddy system so that nobody gets separated from the group, or wanders off alone. Count those heads before and after every stop.
- Masks and hats can obscure trick-or-treaters’ vision, the NHTSA recommends going with face paint.
- Add reflective paint or tape to trick-or-treat bags and costumes, and to strollers for the littlest goblins. Make sure everyone has a glow stick or flashlight, too.
- Have a talk with kids how and when to dial 911 in an emergency from a landline or from a mobile phone.
One of the best tips I have is to feed kids a healthy dinner before heading out to trick or treat. It will reduce snacking on stuff from the bags if you don’t have a bunch of starving trick or treaters. Likewise, having bottled water on hand keeps everyone hydrated. Impress on kids that they should not snack from their bags until parents have had a chance to check for tampering, and that nothing that isn’t commercially wrapped should be accepted unless it’s from a trusted family friend. Finally, treats are great fun, but have a talk about sugar and what it does in your body. Kids love sugary treats and so do grownups, but candy should be just that – something eaten only occasionally.