Halloween can be one of the most fun nights of the year for children across America, but for parents, it can be one of the most nerve-wracking. On average, twice as many kids are killed while walking on Halloween than on any other day of the year. By taking a few simple precautions, kids, parents and drivers can make celebrating Halloween fun and safe.

On Halloween, more children are on the street after dark than normal, and they are so excited that they may dart into the street without thinking. We encourage parents to ensure their child’s costume can be easily seen by drivers and to talk to their kids about how to walk safely. It’s also important for drivers to slow down, avoid distractions and take extra care on the roads.

Tips for a happy (and safe) Halloween

Safe costumes:

  1. Be visible. Plan costumes that are bright and reflective. Decorate costumes and bags with reflective tape or stickers and, if possible, choose light colors. Carry glow sticks or flashlights to help drivers see you. Items to improve visibility are usually available at mass retailers, party stores, sporting goods stores and hardware stores.
  2. Wear the right size costume. To prevent trips and falls, make sure the costume is the right size and is not dragging on the ground.
  3. Use makeup instead of a mask. Masks can obstruct a child’s vision, making it harder to see oncoming traffic, so choose non-toxic face paint and make-up whenever possible.
  4. Buy flame-resistant items. Buy flame-resistant fabrics such as nylon or polyester, and look for “flame resistant” on the label when purchasing costumes, wigs and other accessories. Halloween decor often features jack-o-lanterns and candles, which can be dangerous if a costume gets too close to an open flame.

Safe walking:

  1. Stay alert. Put down electronic devices and keep heads up. Watch out for cars that are turning or backing up, and don’t dart out into the street or cross in between parked cars.
  2. Walk on sidewalks or paths. If there are no sidewalks, walk facing traffic as far to the left as possible.
  3. Cross the street at corners. Always look left, right and left again when crossing and keep looking as you cross.
  4. Trick or treat with an adult. A parent or responsible adult should always accompany young children while trick or treating. If kids are mature enough to be out without supervision, remind them to stick to familiar areas that are well lit and trick or treat in groups.

Safe driving:

  1. Slow down, and reduce any distractions inside your car, such as talking on the phone or eating, so you can concentrate on the road and your surroundings.
  2. Be especially alert and take extra time to look for kids at intersections, on medians and on curbs. Remember that popular trick-or-treating hours are between 4 p.m. and 8 p.m. Children are excited on Halloween and may move in unpredictable ways.

For more tips on how to help kids become safer pedestrians on Halloween, and throughout the year, visit www.safekids.org and follow Safe Kids Marathon County on Facebook page at www.facebook.com/SafeKidsMC.

Amanda Tabin, safe kids and injury prevention coordinator, Aspirus Wausau Hospital.