As we get closer to another night of Halloween trick-or-treating, we need to discuss the dangers and what we can do to protect our young goblins and ghouls. When I was young, my parents only worried about us getting cavities from eating too much candy. When my daughter was young, parents were worried about the latest craze of folks putting small needles in the candy or otherwise making the candy itself unsafe. As she grew older, there also grew a concern of little kids going inside houses to get candy for fear of abduction or worse. I remember we all instructed our kids to never take a bite of the candy until we had a chance to inspect it and to never, ever, leave the front porch of someone’s house, no matter the promises made.
But these aren’t the only dangers we need to consider.
It has been reported that children are more than twice as likely to be struck by a car on Halloween than any other night of the year. It makes sense if you think about it. There are no other evenings when there are so many young kids outside crossing streets in the dark. Even with parents walking with their children, there are vehicle dangers. The kids are usually excited because it is fun to be out with their friends. They are usually hyped up on sugar and perhaps not listening as they normally would. They are in costumes which often include dark colored clothing or loose fitting clothing, which can cause a trip hazard. It is easy to understand how kids may dart across the street when they aren’t supposed to. If you factor in the fact that many adult drivers have been celebrating as well, which likely includes drinking alcohol, it can be a very dangerous situation.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reported that between 2009 and 2013, 43% of all vehicle deaths occurring on Halloween were caused by a drunk driving related crash.
There are dangers aside from car incidents as well. There are burning candles inside of pumpkins, sharp costume props (swords), and candy that may be too large for small kids to eat. There is also a rise in injuries from glow sticks. Kids have been ingesting the liquid contained within the glow sticks and even splashing it into their eyes. There has also been an increase in incidents involving Halloween toys and face paint. Oftentimes, the costume accessories and the face paint come from China and contain heavy metals which can be extremely dangerous to children. Finally, the National Fire Protection Association reports there is always an increase of burn victims on Halloween given the flammable decorations and the number of bonfires.
With a little thought and planning, perhaps we can make Halloween evening a little safer. If you have young children, always make sure an adult is supervising them as they go door to door. Before you take the kids out for the night, make sure you have a discussion with them; namely, cover traffic safety, how to cross the street safely, and how to safely request candy from people they don’t know. Make it clear that they must follow these rules or they do not get to trick-or-treat. If you have kids who are old enough to trick-or-treat without an adult, make sure they go in groups. You should still give the candy a general look over to make sure it is safe to eat – nothing harmful inside and not a choking hazard. You should think twice when picking a costume for your little trick-or-treater – is it easy to see in the dark? Is it the right length? Is it made from safe materials? Make sure you don’t give glow sticks to kids who are too young to safely handle them.