Commentary: Keep children safe this Halloween

Halloween is one of the most dangerous days of the year for pedestrians, according to Safe Kids Worldwide. Children are more than twice as likely to be hit by a car and killed on Halloween than on any other day of the year. In Delaware, 23 pedestrians of all ages have died through Oct. 14 of this year, up more than 40 percent over the same point last year, according to the Delaware Office of Highway Safety.

The Safe Kids Delaware Coalition reminds parents to take precautions to keep their children safe while trick-or-treating:

• Cross the street at corners and use crosswalks. Obey traffic signals and make sure vehicles are stopping before crossing.

• Look left, right, and left again when crossing. Keep looking as you cross.

Karen Odom Walker

• Put electronic devices down and keep heads up. Walk (do not run) across the street.

• Teach children to make eye contact with drivers before crossing in front of them.

• Always 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.

• Watch for cars that are turning or backing up. Teach children to never dart out into the street or cross between parked cars.

Trick or treat with an adult.

Children under the age of 12 should not be alone at night without adult supervision. If kids are mature enough to be out without supervision, remind them to stick to familiar, well-lit areas and to trick-or-treat in groups. While some cities and municipalities may set specific hours for trick or treating, Delaware does not have uniform trick or treat hours.

Keep costumes creative and safe.

• Decorate costumes and bags with reflective tape or stickers and, if possible, choose light colors.

• Choose face paint and makeup whenever possible instead of masks, which can obstruct a child’s vision.

• Have kids carry glow sticks or flashlights to help them see and be seen by drivers.

• When selecting a costume, make sure it is the right size to prevent trips and falls.

The Safe Kids Delaware Coalition, an affiliate of SAFE KIDS Worldwide, is a nonprofit organization established in 1989, comprised of volunteers dedicated to reducing unintentional childhood injury in children from birth to age 14. The Delaware Division of Public Health (DPH) serves as the lead agency for Safe Kids Delaware.

For more safety tips on topics for children, visit https://www.safekids.org/. For more information about Safe Kids Delaware, visit: https://www.dhss.delaware.gov/dph/ems/safekids.html.

Dr. Karen Odom Walker is secretary of the Delaware Department of Health and Social Services.

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