How to Have a Safe and Happy Halloween

Be ready for some unexpected visitors at your door because Halloween is just around the corner! This holiday is a favourite among children and those young at heart, as they get to roam around the neighbourhood in atypical attire while satisfying their sweet tooth cravings. However, this special occasion does not just rack up candies and cavities – Halloween also sees a spike in accidents and injuries.

 

Photo by Steven Depolo via Flickr

 In 2012, Statistics Canada estimated there to be 3,734,401 trick-or-treating aged kids between five and 14 years old in Canada. On this specific night of the year alone, a lot more children are out and about on the roads, vulnerable to potential accidents.  

This heightened susceptibility to disaster on Halloween has proven to be true on Toronto streets. In a statement released last year, police shared that the average number of collisions in the city tends to increase on this holiday, especially between noon and 8 p.m. Toronto has between 138 to 167 collisions per day on a regular basis. But on Halloween, the city sees up to 324 collisions, demonstrating a 115% increase. According to a 2014 survey, these traffic violations make up 6.5% of all criminal incidents reported to police on this special occasion. 

Furthermore, a U.S. study confirmed that Halloween is the deadliest day of the year for young pedestrians, with an average of 5.5 deaths compared to the average of 2.6 deaths on other regular days. 

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration blames Halloween’s higher death rate on the increased presence of pedestrians and drunk drivers on the road. During Halloween in 2012, 48% of fatal crashes resulted from impaired driving. This is considerably higher than the average rate of 31% on other regular days. The agency also found that pedestrians make up for one quarter of people killed in crashes on Halloween, which is double the average on an ordinary day.

Therefore, in preparation for a fun night of modelling cool costumes and collecting free candy, it’s also important to refresh your memory on a few safety tips. 

For drivers

Keep an eye out for children. Children will most likely be absorbed with their trick-or-treating, so they won’t be as attentive to their surroundings. Also, costumes may limit a child’s vision, making it even more difficult for them to pay attention. Make sure to adjust your practices accordingly to avoid potential collisions with oblivious excited young people.

Ensure to drive slowly in residential areas. Residential neighbourhoods are the main targets of trick-or-treaters, so it will be more likely to spot and encounter young pedestrians in such zones. Thus, it is important to drive at or below the posted speed limits, especially during evening hours on Halloween.

Eliminate distractions. Put your cellphone on silent and turn down loud music so you can better focus on the road and pedestrians.

For young children and parents

Adults should accompany younger children while they trick-or-treat. This way, kids will always be supervised and an accident can be prevented quicker.

Try to avoid dark coloured costumes. People love to don grim and dark costumes on Halloween, but these are much harder to see at night. If your child insists on wearing such attire, try attaching reflective tape to their clothing, or make them wear glow-in-the-dark necklaces or bracelets so that they’re more visible. Carrying around a flashlight is also helpful in ensuring motorists will be able to see you.

Make sure costumes aren’t too long and fit well. Costumes that drag on the ground pose a tripping hazard, which could lead to children clumsily ending up on the road subject to vehicle crashes. Find costumes that are no longer than ankle length.

Avoid choosing costumes with masks. Instead, use makeup to prevent blocking a child’s vision so they can see their surroundings better like oncoming traffic.

Ensure costumes and accessories are flame resistant. A lot of Halloween décor is usually lit with fire, like candles and jack-o-lanterns. So before purchasing a costume, check to see that they are labelled flame-resistant to increase your child’s safety around such backyard decorations.

Stick to your own neighbourhood. In the event that children get lost while trick-or-treating, at least they will be on familiar streets. Thus, they are more likely to know how to navigate through the roads and find their way home. In addition, choose a meeting spot in case you get separated from one another.

Stay on sidewalks as much as possible. If the sidewalk is too crowded, walk on the far edge of the road against the sidewalk, so you won’t be in the way of oncoming vehicles and can evade them. Also, make sure to face oncoming traffic when walking on the road so you can see when cars are headed towards you.

Stick to the houses on one side of the street before crossing the road. Don’t zig zag through streets while going from house to house. Try to limit the amount of times you cross the road to lessen the chance of car collisions.  

Wait for vehicles to come to a complete stop before crossing the street. Also make sure to cross where there are stop signs, crosswalks or traffic lights. This lessens the chance of car-pedestrian crashes, as vehicles will be moving slower around these points.

Ensure children know that they should never enter a stranger’s home. Only visit well-lit houses, for they are more likely to be giving away candy and are less prone to have children tripping on their property.

Inspect the candy that has been collected from trick-or-treating. Make sure they are fully wrapped, untampered, and contain no choking or allergy hazards.

For teens

Older kids should trick-or-treat in groups. Police forces advise teens to travel in groups on Halloween so they can look out for one another and are easier for drivers to spot.

Put away cellphones while trick-or-treating. The selfies and texts can wait. No matter what age you are, stay focused on your path and surroundings. According to a Safe Kids study, teen pedestrian injuries rise every year, possibly due to electronic distractions.

For homeowners giving away candy

Keep the pathway to your door clear. Put away all items that could block children’s way and pose as a tripping hazard, such as garden tools or decorations.

Turn your porch light on. Visiting children will be able to see better and make their way to your front door without tripping and falling.

Keep lit pumpkins away from the path of trick-or-treaters, decorations, and other flammable objects. Or using an LED light instead of a candle flame may be a safer option to prevent fires.

This Halloween, keep the happy in the holiday by practising these safety tips. If you have been injured on the road either in your vehicle or as a pedestrian, contact us today to learn about how we can help you receive the compensation you deserve.