(ST. PAUL, Minn., October 25, 2011) - Make-believe ghosts and goblins aren't the only scares children face when trick-or-treating. Safe Kids Minnesota and the Minnesota Safety Council urge adults to review common sense guidelines with children to protect them from pedestrian injuries and falls, the most common risks they face on Halloween.
"The excitement of trick-or-treating can make everyone less cautious," said Erin Petersen, coordinator of Safe Kids Minnesota and of family safety programs for the Minnesota Safety Council. "To help keep children safe, parents should remind their kids about the rules of the road and ensure they will be seen by drivers this Halloween."
Safe Kids Worldwide cautions that young children are at special risk for pedestrian injury because they face traffic risks that exceed their developmental abilities, for example, the ability to accurately judge the speed and distance of oncoming traffic.
The Minnesota Safety Council and Safe Kids Minnesota recommend that an adult or older sibling accompany children under age 12 while trick-or-treating. In addition, they offer the following recommendations:
Visibility. Many children are likely to be trick-or-treating in the dark when it is harder for drivers to see them. Children should bring flashlights with them, carry reflective bags, or attach retro-reflective tape, fabric, or decorative patches to costumes.
Traffic. Review basic pedestrian safety rules, including where and how to cross streets. Teach kids never to dart out into the street — one of the most common causes of pedestrian deaths among children. Drivers should be particularly alert on Halloween and watch for children on the street, in alleys and crossing driveways.
Falls. Use face paint or cosmetics instead of a mask (look for non-toxic designations), and make costumes short enough to prevent tripping. If children do wear masks, cut the eye holes extra large. Advise children not to cut across yards where tripping hazards may be hidden in the dark. Homeowners should sweep wet leaves away from sidewalks and steps and keep the house well-lighted.
Burns. Look for "flame resistant" labels on costumes and use fire resistant material to make costumes; avoid baggy sleeves and billowing skirts, which may be a hazard around candles. Keep candles, matches, lighters and jack-o-lanterns with candles out of children's reach.
Personal safety. Instruct children to stop only at well-lit houses or apartments, and to never enter the home of strangers. Check treats for signs of tampering before children are allowed to eat them. The liquid in glow sticks is also hazardous, so if children carry these, they should be reminded not to chew on or break them.
Child passenger safety. If you drive children for Halloween, secure them properly in the safety restraint that is right for their size: rear-facing seats for children until at least one year old and 20 pounds (longer is recommended; see seat instructions); forward-facing seats for children older than one year through at least four years old; booster seats for children who have outgrown a forward-facing car seat, usually after turning four years old and until the child is age eight or 4-feet 9-inches, at which point the child can "graduate" to a seat belt.
Halloween safety brochures are available on the Minnesota Safety Council's website, in English and Spanish. See www.minnesotasafetycouncil.org/facts/haloeng.pdf and www.minnesotasafetycouncil.org/facts/halospan.pdf. The brochures contain safety tips designed for children and adults to review together.
The Minnesota Safety Council, founded in 1928, is a non governmental, not for profit organization dedicated to improving the quality of life in Minnesota by preventing unintentional injuries and deaths. It is a chapter of the National Safety Council.