Countdown to Halloween: Keep Your Kids Safe

Cars, not candy, can pose the greatest danger to your kids this Halloween.

ByELISABETH LEAMY and KIMBERLY BERRYMAN via via logo
October 10, 2010, 3:19 PM

Oct. 25, 2010 — -- The key to staying safe during Halloween is to know where the danger lies. The number one Halloween hazard by far is kids being hit by cars.

In fact, children are twice as likely to be struck on Halloween as on any other night.

Melissa Robles and Hailey Vileta of Woodinville, Wash., prepared this year for Halloween with the typical teenage enthusiasm, but it was last year that the two were nearly killed.

"You just feel like I really am lucky," Melissa told "Good Morning America."

The girls, along with about a dozen other ninth graders, were walking along a road in their hometown after dark. Melissa was dressed as Little Red Riding Hood. Ironically, Hailey was dressed as the sun. They don't remember what happened next, but friends who witnessed the incident told them.

"The car hit me dead on and then swerved around back to Melissa," Hailey said.

"I flew out of my shoes," Melissa said. "Like my shoes were planted right where I got hit."

CLICK HERE to see web extra tips for staying safe, whether you're driving or your kid is Trick-or-Treating.

Hailey said the next thing she knew, she woke up with her mother holding her hand and doctors swarming her.

For Halloween that year, instead of candy, the girls got head injuries, a lacerated liver, two crushed legs, multiple surgeries, titanium rods, wheelchairs, casts, days in the hospital and weeks away from school.

"I remember before the accident being able to run super fast, but now I can't," Melissa said.

Of all the crashes when kids are struck and killed, 42 percent occur between the narrow window of 4 p.m. and 8 p.m. That's when cars are coming and the light is leaving.

"It turns into the perfect storm of things that contribute to crashes," said Moira Donahue of Safe Kids U.S.A., a non-profit organization that works to eliminate preventable childhood injuries.

Sometimes parents worry about exotic Halloween hazards, like tainted candy, and forget about car accidents, the most devastating danger of all.

"It's really important for parents to think about walking safety and visibility for their children on Halloween," Donahue said. "It really is the top concern."

Statistics to Keep Your Kids From Being One

Other statistics to know to help keep your kids from becoming one:

"Think about what you're doing and be safe out there because you never know what can happen," Melissa said.

"The slightest moment could kill somebody, could take their life," Hailey said.

A year after their accident, Hailey and Melissa are mostly recovered. Although the pins in their legs cause them a lot of pain, the girls have turned that pain into passion.

They speak to school groups and distribute glow-in-the-dark bracelets and neon road signs. Their message to kids and drivers? Stay alert and safe.

"I think what I am most proud of is just how they've turned a negative experience into an act of courage," Hailey's dad, Jeff Vileta, said.

CLICK HERE to find out more about Hailey Vileta and Melissa Robles' campaign for better pedestrian safety.

Despite accidents like Hailey and Melissa's, according to poll results from CafeMom.com obtained exclusively by ABC News, only 56 percent of parents plan to have their kids wear bright colors and reflectors when they trick-or-treat this year and only 59 percent will give them a flashlight to carry.

In a demonstration on "GMA," I showed the audience how some Halloween themed reflectors -- purchased for just a few dollars -- can alert drivers to a trick-or-treater. Glowsticks around a kid's neck and wrists and blinking lights that can be attached to the back of the costume complete the illuminated -- and safe -- look.

But you also want your kids to be able to see the cars. That's why experts discourage masks that have small eye holes that can be hard to see through. Face paint can be a good replacement.

Also, firefighters are on a major campaign to stop the use of real candles in pumpkins, which can catch costumes and highly flammable decorations on fire.

For older kids, parents can keep track of them with new technology like the Trick or Tracker smartphone application. In that app, which is free through Halloween and costs a $10 one-time fee after that, a pumpkin marks your child's location.

Web Extra Tips for Kids and Drivers

Tips for Kids

Tips for Drivers

You can see fun Halloween reflective patches at FlashBriteinc.com and to learn more about child safety information, CLICK HERE.

Click here to return to the "Good Morning America" website.

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