Trick? Or Treat?
Neighborhood Sweet Neighborhood
by Staff Neighborhood Safety Reporter
Trick? Or Treat?
Halloween is on a Sunday this year. Consider celebrating a little earlier, during daylight hours. Traditional trick-or-treating hours are darker between 5:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m.
According to the National Safety Council: “Children are more than twice as likely to be hit by a car and killed on Halloween than on any other day of the year. Lack of visibility because of low lighting at night also plays a factor in these incidents.”
Kids love the magic of Halloween, but in 2020 many communities canceled their celebrations due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Is it safe to trick-or-treat this year? (See below: Advice from Professionals)
TIPS FOR HOMEOWNERS: Preparing for Trick’n Treaters:
__ Consider individual bags to hand out versus children grabbing into a communal pot of candy.
__ Clean up. Put away tripping hazards, such as garden hoses, toys and bikes. Clear wet leaves, snow or other debris from the sidewalk.
__ Turn the lights on. Replace burned-out bulbs to ensure visibility at the walkway and front door.
__ Control your pets. Take no chances that your pet might be frightened and chase or bite a child at your door.
__ Consider sugar substitutes. Instead of handing out sweets, try stickers, fun pencils, rubber insects or colored chalk. (My FAV is packets of apple cider mix)
TIPS FOR TRICK’n TREATERS of all ages:
__ Go during daylight hours if possible.
__ Go in groups.
__ Go to familiar houses.
__ Have kids carry glow sticks or flashlights (with fresh batteries!) to help them see, and be seen by, drivers.
__ Check all candy for any signs of tampering.
__ Put electronic devices down, keep heads up and walk, don’t run across the street.
__ Many of our neighborhoods do not have sidewalks or walking paths. Therefore, it is safer to walk facing traffic as far to the left as possible, on streets with the fewest street intersections or crossings.
__ Cross the street at corners, using traffic signals and crosswalks. Look left, right and left again when crossing and keep looking as you cross. Watch for cars that are turning or backing up.
__ Make eye contact with drivers before crossing in front of them.
__ Never dart out into the street or cross between parked cars.
TIPS FOR COSTUME SELECTION:
__ Masks: A costume mask shouldn’t be considered a substitute for a cloth mask. Decorate a virus-safe face mask to coordinate with the theme of your costume. Choose face paint and makeup whenever possible instead of masks, which can obstruct a child’s vision. Decorate a virus-safe face mask to coordinate with the theme of your costume.
__ When selecting a costume, make sure it is the right size to prevent trips and falls.
__ All costumes, wigs and accessories should be fire-resistant.
__ Wear reflective clothing: decorate costumes and bags with reflective tape or stickers and, if possible, choose light colors.
TIPS FOR PARENTS of Trick’n Treaters
__ Help select costumes for a safe Halloween. (See TIPS FOR COSTUME SELECTION)
__ Decorate costumes and bags with reflective tape or stickers and, if possible, choose light colors.
__ Accompany children under age 12 for trick-or-treating.
__ If kids are mature enough to be out without supervision, plan and review a route acceptable to you; tell them to stick to familiar areas that are well lit and trick-or-treat in groups.
__Have unsupervised children carry a cellphone.
__ Agree on a specific time children should return home.
__ Don't let your child snack while he or she is trick-or-treating. Feed your child an early meal before heading out, and inspect the treats before your child eats them. Discard anything that's not sealed, has torn packaging or looks questionable. If you have young children, weed out gum, peanuts, hard candies and other choking hazards. Take care to avoid any food allergies, check candy labels carefully.
__ Remove all makeup before children go to bed to prevent skin and eye irritation.
__ Discourage new, inexperienced drivers from driving on Halloween.
TIPS FOR DRIVERS
__ Popular trick-or-treating hours are 5:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. Be especially alert for kids during those hours.
__ Turn your headlights on earlier in the day to spot children from greater distances.
__ Slow down and be especially alert in residential neighborhoods. Children are excited on Halloween and may move in unpredictable ways.
__ Take extra time to look for kids at intersections, on medians and on curbs.
__ Enter and exit driveways and alleys slowly and carefully.
__ Don’t be distracted by your phone, etc; concentrate on the road and your surroundings.
__ Drive extra safely on Halloween
ADVICE FROM PROFESSIONALS:
Stephen Kissler, an epidemiologist and disease modeler at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, said researchers expect the fall and winter, much like last year's cooler weather climate, to lead to an uptick in COVID-19 cases. "Halloween is when we expect that surge to start," he said. “It helps that Halloween is generally an outdoor-focused holiday in spite of the colder weather … What better opportunity to wear a mask than Halloween?" Kissler said. "Try to incorporate (a mask) into your costume any way you can.” Kissler said aside from COVID-19, one smart precautionary thing to do is get a flu shot "so you have immunity when Halloween comes along.”
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention director Rochelle Walensky said she is hopeful for Halloween 2021 when it comes to trick-or-treating. “I wouldn’t necessarily go to a crowded Halloween party, but I think that we should be able to let our kids go trick-or-treating in small groups,” Walensky said on CBS’ 'Face the Nation.' “I hope that we can do that this year.”
Dr. Jean Moorjani, a board-certified pediatrician at Orlando Health Arnold Palmer Hospital in Florida, said ahead of last year's holiday. "The most important thing is that families decide together what level of risk they're OK with this Halloween. For example, are you OK with people you don't know knocking on your door? My family doesn't know 90 percent of the people that come to our door on a typical Halloween night! So it's thinking about things like that.”
For more information or resources:
https://www.safekids.org/halloween (includes printable safety posters)