For young children, Halloween night is one of the best of the year. According to the latest U.S. Census data, there are about 41 million potential trick-or-treaters between the ages of 5 and 14. That’s a lot of kids out on the streets partaking in the holiday festivities; and where children go, safety concerns follow.  Here are some Halloween safety tips from Brevard C.A.R.E.S. Executive Director Phebe Powell.

Trick-or-treating can be dangerous if kids and parents aren’t careful. Many communities have posted times for trick-or-treating. For those that don’t, remember that you don’t have to wait until it is pitch-black outside to go trick-or-treating. A good trick-or-treat time is right after an early dinner and just before dusk when you can keep better track of your children and are able to see the others that you encounter on the street. Besides, if you are the first person there, you will have the best selection of candy!

Parents should be aware of the potential risks that can affect children. On Halloween, kids are enjoying new sensations and experiences that are fun, but distracting. They’re wearing unusual outfits. They may be wearing headgear such as a crown or pirate hat, or wearing face paint. Also, they are suddenly at liberty to venture outdoors in these ensembles, knock on doors, and maybe munch on some candy while they’re at it.

Keeping your kids safe starts with some smart choices. Parents can start by making sure trick-or-treaters have adult supervision, even if they are traveling with a group of friends. 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, they should stick to familiar areas that are well lit and trick-or-treat in groups.

Safe Kids Worldwide recommends several easy and effective behaviors that can help parents reduce risk of injury.

Walk Safely

  • Cross the street at corners, using traffic signals and crosswalks.
  • Look left, right and left again when crossing and keep looking as you cross.
  • Put electronic devices down and keep heads up and walk, don’t 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.
Keep Costumes Both 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.
Drive Extra Safely on Halloween
  • Slow down and be especially alert in residential neighborhoods. Children are excited on Halloween and may move in unpredictable ways.
  • Take extra time to look for kids at intersections, on medians and on curbs.
  • Enter and exit driveways and alleys slowly and carefully.
  • Eliminate any distractions inside your car so you can concentrate on the road and your surroundings.
  • Drive slowly, anticipate heavy pedestrian traffic and turn your headlights on earlier in the day to spot children from greater distances.
  • Popular trick-or-treating hours are 5:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. so be especially alert for kids during those hours.