FORT WORTH (CBSDFW.COM) – Halloween is here, the day when ghosts, goblins, superheroes and princesses take over the streets. But, before you take the kids out for trick-or-treating, there are some tips that every parent should know to keep their children safe.
It all begins with the costume, many of which may have hidden dangers. Some of the spooky outfits are dark-colored, and can become almost invisible at night. Even those costumes that are bright on the front may be completely black on the back. “You can add reflective tape,” suggested Daniel Armbruster from AAA Texas. It costs just a few extra dollars.
Armbruster also cautioned that some costumes might be more dangerous than others. “If the costume is the wrong size or you have an added cape or something like that, that can cause a child to trip,” he said. Masks can become a problem too. “That can actually block a child’s peripheral vision, so when they’re trying to cross the street, they may not see a car coming.”
Facepaint is a better option for kids than a mask.
In addition to a safe costume, children should also carry a flashlight with fresh batteries to help light the path.
Drivers are very much a real danger on the streets during Halloween night. Fatal accidents involving drunk drivers occur three times more often on Halloween than on New Year’s Eve, because of the number of people — mostly young children — walking the streets. It is important for kids to be aware of any nearby drivers when trick-or-treating.
“Teenagers have a higher risk for death,” Armbruster said, “because most teenagers aren’t accompanied by adults.”
Cell phones can also be a major distraction on Halloween night for people both small and large. “We see a lot more incidents lately of people — kids, adults even — walking into an intersection because they’re looking down at that cell phone,” explained Armbruster. “Walking and texting can be just as dangerous as texting and driving.”
If you’re the one behind the wheel, make sure that you drive slowly through neighborhoods and be prepared for any little ones darting into the street. Homeowners are advised to turn off their porch lights by 9:00 p.m. so that children get the signal that it’s time to head home.
Once the night is over, it is a good idea for parents to sort through the sugary loot before handing it over to the kids, because it is sometimes hard for children to see what goes into their Halloween bags during the trick-or-treat frenzy. The FDA has some advice for parents.
First, throw out any items that are not commercially wrapped, or appear to have tears or discoloration in the wrapper. Candy that looks suspicious should probably be tossed. Treats like gum, peanuts and hard candy could be choking hazards for small children. And, if your child has a food allergy, review each candy’s label for a list of ingredients.
Of course, the hardest part might be seizing that loot from a kid’s clutches. Parents should not send children out on an empty stomach. Eating dinner before the trick-or-treating begins may stave off the candy cravings, giving parents time to go through the Halloween bag before the kids do it first.
“The idea is be smart, be safe and be seen,” Armbruster said.