Parents, drivers must do their part to ensure kids remain safe while trick-or-treating, U-M experts urge

Child pedestrian deaths double Halloween night

On average, twice as many kids are killed in pedestrian accidents on Halloween compared to other days of the year. In an effort to keep kids safe this season, injury prevention experts from the University of Michigan’s C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital urge parents to prepare children to act safely and drivers to take extra precautions.

Children need proper safety instruction before they go trick-or-treating, experts say. Parents should remind children of the rules of the road, emphasizing that drivers may not be able to spot them after dark.
“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," says Amy Teddy, Injury Prevention Program Manager at C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital.

“Proper costume fit, including shoes and masks, is something many parents forget to check. It’s important to remember that kids can easily trip and fall because of loose fitting clothes, or while wearing mask that interferes with vision,” says Teddy.

There are plenty of fun ways to prevent injuries and ensure children are visible, including using glow sticks and reflective stickers.

Injuries sustained due to a pedestrian-related incident, which often includes severe trauma to the brain, are a leading cause of injuries for children treated at Mott Children’s Hospital.

“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,” says Michelle Macy, M.D., a clinical lecturer of emergency medicine at the U-M Medical School.

Drivers should also be on alert during Halloween while more children are on the streets and sidewalks.
“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,” says Teddy.

 

Top safety tips to share with your children this Halloween:
Cross the street safely at corners. Cross using traffic signals and crosswalks. Look left, right and left again when crossing and keep 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 in 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, as well as to be seen by drivers.

 

Top safety tips recommend for drivers:
Slow down in residential neighborhoods. Remember that popular trick-or-treating hours are 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.

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About C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital:
The University of Michigan C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital is consistently ranked as one of the best hospitals in the country. It was nationally ranked in all ten pediatric specialties in the U.S. News Media Group’s 2011 edition of “America’s Best Children’s Hospitals” including third in the country for heart and heart surgery. In December, the hospital moves to a new 1.1 million square feet, $754 million state-of-the-art facility that will be home to cutting-edge specialty services for newborns, children and women.

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