Baltimore County Now
Baltimore County Public Safety Information Specialist
Halloween is the time of year when children dressed as monsters, superheroes, animals and the like set out to frighten and delight neighbors, friends and family while collecting as much candy as they can possibly carry.
Although these trick-or-treaters are far too cute to scare us adults, Halloween can be a terrifying night for parents. Why? Because Halloween, according to the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration, is the second-deadliest day of the year for pedestrians.
With the threat of vehicles driving too fast, parents should follow these simple steps to protect their little ones while they enjoy their Halloween fun:
- Trick-or-treat while there is still daylight. The sun goes down at 6:08 p.m., and a 5 p.m. start gives the little ghouls and goblins plenty of time to gather treats from the neighborhood. Walking in the dark is dangerous and places your child, and others, in harm’s way.
- It is best to stay within your neighborhood. Remind trick-or-treaters to go to only homes where the porch light is on.
- Provide children with flashlights or other non-flammable light sources so they can see and be seen while walking.
- Tell your kids to walk on the sidewalk. If there are no walkways, stay as close to the curb as possible.
- Many costumes are dark and difficult to see at night. If you’re going to be out after sunset, make it easier for drivers to see trick-or-treaters by applying reflective tape to dark costumes. Use your imagination when placing the tape. If you do it right, children won’t mind wearing it. However, if there is dissension in the ranks, explain to them that the tape will help them avoid being hit by a car or other vehicle.
- Costumes are very personal to some children. Many work on them for days. Kids tend to go for the “cool factor” over safety features, so if a costume includes a mask, ensure that the eyes are large enough to see through, or encourage the use of makeup.
- It goes without saying that parents should walk with their children. It keeps them safe from traffic problems and unwanted overtures from older kids looking for a little mischief. You don’t have to look like a chaperone – make it fun by dressing up, too.
- Be a role model when it comes to obeying pedestrian traffic laws. Cross only at a crosswalk, and only when the light gives you the go-ahead.
- Motorists who are out on Halloween night also should also take responsibility. Speeding through a neighborhood, failure to stop at a stop sign and running red lights increase the odds for a tragedy. Drive as though you lived in the neighborhood. Drive as though your children and their friends were out trick-or-treating.
- Of course, we encourage adults to check little ones’ goodie bags when they get home. If any treat looks suspicious, toss it away.
More useful information on pedestrian safety can be found online at the Baltimore Metropolitan Council’s Street Smart Campaign.