NEW BRUNSWICK, N.J. – On average, twice as many kids are killed while out trick-or-treating on Halloween night compared to other days of the year.
As Halloween approaches, the Level I Trauma Center at Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital (RWJ) and Safe Kids Middlesex County urge parents to prepare children to act safely and drivers to take extra precautions.
“Many children will be out trick-or-treating while it’s dark, when it is more difficult for drivers to see them. There are several easy and effective behaviors that adults can share with youngsters to help reduce their risk of injury,” says Diana Starace, injury prevention coordinator for the Level I Trauma Center at RWJ and Safe Kids Middlesex County Coordinator.
“For example, children younger than age 12 shouldn’t cross streets alone on Halloween without an adult,” Starace suggests. “If older children are mature enough to go trick-or-treating without adult supervision, parents should encourage them to walk together, in a group, and stick to a predetermined route with good lighting.”
At the 21st Annual Safe Kids Fair at RWJ next Thursday, Oct. 27, and Friday, Oct. 28, the Injury Prevention Program of the Level I Trauma Center at RWJ will feature eight safety stations, one of them focusing on Halloween and pedestrian safety. More than 600 second and third graders from area elementary schools are expected to attend this event. There they will receive reflective materials to promote visibility, including zipper tags that can be attached to costumes and trick-or-treat bags. Safety information for children, parents and drivers also will be available.
Here are more safety tips to help ensure children’s safety on Halloween night:
- Cross the street safely at corners, using traffic signals and crosswalks. Look left, look right and look left again when crossing and keep looking as you cross. Walk, don’t run, across the street.
- 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.
- Slow down and stay alert: watch out for cars that are turning or backing up and never dart out into the street or cross between parked cars.
- Costumes can be both creative and safe. Decorate costumes and bags with reflective tape or stickers and, if possible, choose light colors. Masks can obstruct a child's vision, so choose non-toxic face paint and make-up whenever possible. Have kids carry glow sticks or flashlights so they can see better and be seen by drivers.
Motorists who plan to be on the streets on Halloween should plan to be extra alert as there will be more children on the streets and sidewalks – and those kids may be focused on gathering candy and the excitement of Halloween rather than being careful while crossing streets. “Slow down on neighborhood roads. This may help save lives,” adds Starace.
Here are more tips for motorists out and about on Halloween night:
- Slow down in residential neighborhoods. Remember that popular trick-or-treating hours are 5:30 to 9:30 p.m.
- Be especially alert and take extra time to look for kids at intersections, on medians and on curbs. Children are excited on Halloween and may move in unpredictable ways.
- Reduce distractions inside your car, such as talking on the phone or eating, so you can concentrate on the road and your surroundings.
While pedestrian safety is a main concern on Halloween, parents and kids should also be careful when dealing with candy. “While kids never want to wait to dive into their candy, it is best to check sweets for signs of tampering before children are allowed to eat them,” Starace suggests. “Remind children to only eat treats in original and unopened wrappers.”
About Safe Kids Middlesex County
Safe Kids Middlesex County works to prevent unintentional childhood injury, the leading cause of death and disability to children ages one to 14. Its members include injury prevention advocates from local government, civic organizations, businesses and health care organizations. Safe Kids Middlesex County is a member of Safe Kids Worldwide, a global network of organizations dedicated to preventing unintentional injury. Safe Kids Middlesex County was founded in 2003 and is led by the Level One Trauma Center at Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital.
About Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital
Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital (RWJUH) is a 965-bed academic medical center with campuses in New Brunswick and Somerville, NJ. Its Centers of Excellence include cardiovascular care from minimally invasive heart surgery to transplantation, cancer care, stroke care, neuroscience, joint replacement, and women’s and children’s care including The Bristol-Myers Squibb Children’s Hospital at Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital (www.bmsch.org). As the flagship Cancer Hospital of Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey and the principal teaching hospital of Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School in New Brunswick, RWJUH is an innovative leader in advancing state-of-the-art care. A Level 1 Trauma Center and the only Pediatric Trauma Center in the state, RWJUH’s New Brunswick campus serves as a national resource in its ground-breaking approaches to emergency preparedness.
RWJUH has been ranked among the best hospitals in America by U.S. News & World Report seven times and has been selected by the publication as a high performing hospital in numerous specialties. The Bristol-Myers Squibb Children’s Hospital has been ranked among the best hospitals in America by U.S. News & World Report for three consecutive years.
Both the New Brunswick and Somerset campuses have earned significant national recognition for clinical quality and patient safety, including the prestigious Magnet® Award for Nursing Excellence, an “A” patient safety rating from the Leapfrog Group and “Most Wired” designation by Hospitals and Health Networks Magazine. The Joint Commission and the New Jersey Department of Health and Senior Services have designated the New Brunswick Campus as a Comprehensive Stroke Center and the Somerset Campus as a Primary Stroke Center.
The American College of Surgeons’ Commission on Cancer has rated RWJUH New Brunswick among the nation’s best comprehensive cancer centers and designated the Steeplechase Cancer Center at RWJ Somerset as a Comprehensive Community Cancer Center. The Joint Surgery Center at Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital Somerset has earned the Joint Commission’s Gold Seal of Approval for total knee and total hip replacement surgery.