Halloween is right around the corner and the Florida Department of Health in Marion County (DOH-Marion) is offering a few tips to help keep local trick-or-treaters safe.
While Halloween can provide plenty of fun for children and their families, it can also be harmful and sometimes fatal for those who are celebrating the holiday.
According to a study of child pedestrian fatalities that was conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, four children died each year on Halloween, on average, between 1975 and 1996. For comparison, the study states that an average of 1.1 deaths occur on every other day of the year.
Another report from Safe Kids Worldwide states that in more recent years, twice as many children were killed while walking on Halloween than any other day of the year.
DOH-Marion recommends that all motorists navigating communities with trick-or-treaters should do the following:
- Drive slowly through residential neighborhoods and remember that many children will be out in darkness when visibility is limited.
- Be alert to children who cross the street in the middle of the block. Excited children may not pay attention to passing traffic.
- Reduce distractions and concentrate on the road. Avoid using your phone or eating while driving through areas where trick-or-treaters are anticipated.
- Don’t drink and drive.
Parents and children also bear some responsibility for the safety of youth. With that in mind, DOH-Marion also recommends the following:
- Parents or other adults in a group should keep their eyes on the children at all times as they go from place to place.
- Parents and children are encouraged to wear brightly colored costumes or clothes, or highlight clothing with reflective tape. Also carry flashlights or glow-sticks. Remember the motto: Be seen on Halloween.
- Children should not wear any mask that blocks or reduces their vision.
- Parents and children should put away cellphones and other devices while walking. It is important to pay attention to traffic.
- Parents and children should use the sidewalk and stay on it. Also, use cross streets at crosswalks, not the middle of the block.
- Parents and children should watch for cars at all times. Remember to look left, then right, then left again when crossing the street. Also pay attention when passing driveways, as cars may be backing out.
DOH-Marion also reminds parents that there are steps to take after the candy has been collected:
- Always inspect every piece of candy. Make sure it is properly wrapped. Check for signs of tampering or an unusual appearance or discoloration. Look for tiny pinholes or tears in wrappers.
- Remember the advice: If you doubt, toss it out.
- Although cases of dangerous substances being added to candy or other goodies are rare, they do happen. Parents and caregivers should be especially vigilant now as we know dangerous drugs, such as fentanyl, are more prevalent than ever. If you are suspicious, throw it out.
- Make sure children know how to call 911 in case of an emergency.
The Florida Department of Health in Marion County wants all parents and youth to enjoy this festive holiday in the spirit that it is intended, but to do so safely.