— -- As parents and kids get ready for costumed fun this Halloween, doctors and other medical experts want to remind people to stay safe while trick or treating. Here's a few key tips:
Wait For a Green Light to Cross
If children are excited about reaching every house in the neighborhood to amass a large candy stash, safety experts say kids can quickly forget basic street safety guidelines.
Purnima Unni, the Pediatric Trauma Injury Prevention Program Manager at Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt University Medical Center, said children may dart into the street if they see a friend across the road or if they are eager to head to more houses.
"We see twice as many kids killed just walking [on Halloween] than a normal day. It's something we often talk to parents about," said Unni. "They're running out across the street. They're not looking left and right."
She also advises parents to sit with children before Halloween to remind them of key dangers and to use reflective tape or glow sticks so that they are more visible to drivers.
"Even if they're not paying attention," Unni noted, drivers will say, "'I see a moving, shining object, it has to be a child.'"
Children and adolescents who trick-or-treat should always travel in group for increased visibility and safety.
Be Alert For Drunk Drivers
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reported that Halloween is a particularly deadly night for car accidents, since there are increased rates of drunk driving.
"Over the five years from 2007-2011, 23 percent of pedestrian fatalities on Halloween night involved a drunk driver," the NHTSA website states.
Beware Toy Swords
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) also reminds parents that even toy weapons can be a hazard and that any costume weapons should be "short, soft, and flexible."
Do a Face Paint Test Run
Anyone, but especially children, can end up with irritated skin from Halloween face paint. To avoid having children look a fright even after Halloween, the CDC recommends doing a test run before the holiday. Apply a small amount of make up to the skin a few days before to see if any irritation develops.
Make Sure the Costume Fits
Kids eager to have their favorite costume may end up wearing an outfit that is slightly too big. Unni said parents should be careful it's not so long that kids end up tripping.
How Much Candy is Too Much?
Unni said parents can decide on their own how much candy the child should be allowed at the end of the night. She also recommends saving candy to be doled out later in the week.
"Every day they can enjoy a little bit of Halloween," said Unni.
The CDC also recommends eating only factory-wrapped treats, no homemade confections.