At-Home Safety: Brake for Ghosts and Goblins this Halloween

Oct. 27, 2011
Distracted drivers, drunk drivers and just plain careless drivers can make the road seem like a scary place. This Halloween, drivers should be aware not only for their own safety, but also for the safety of the little ghosts and goblins who will take to the streets on trick-or-treat night.

Compared to other days of the year, an average of twice as many children are killed in pedestrian accidents on Halloween. Experts stress that kids (and drivers alike) need proper safety instruction before heading out on this holiday.

“Kids who are struck by cars are among the most severely injured children we see in the emergency department. Because of their height, when a car hits a child, the impact is to the head and torso. This puts the brain and internal organs at risk for serious injuries,” said Michelle Macy, M.D., a clinical lecturer of emergency medicine at the University of Michigan Medical School.

To prevent a Halloween tragedy, drivers must be on alert when the witches, goblins and ghosts take to the streets for trick-or-treat night. Drivers should follow these safety tips on Halloween:

· Slow down in residential neighborhoods, particularly during popular trick-or-treating hours (usually 5:30 to 9:30 p.m.).
· Be especially alert. 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. While inside your car, avoid talking on the phone or eating so you can concentrate on the road and your surroundings.

“Kids are focused on gathering candy and the excitement of the holiday rather than being careful while crossing streets, so it’s up to drivers to take extra precaution,” said Amy Teddy, Injury Prevention Program Manager at the University of Michigan’s C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital.

Additionally, parents should share the following safety information with their children:

· Cross the street safely at corners and while using traffic signals and crosswalks. Look left, right and left again when crossing and continue 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 instead choose non-toxic face paint and makeup. Have kids carry glow sticks or flashlights in order to see better and be more visible to drivers.
· Costumes, including shoes and masks, should fit properly to prevent trips and falls.

“Children younger than age 12 should not cross the street 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," Teddy said.

So when you’re driving this Halloween, be on the lookout for little ghosts and goblins. By taking some precautions and remaining vigilant, you can ensure they never cross your path.

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