Now that fall has arrived, outdoor activities are soaring. To perpetuate the fun and minimize injuries, here are some common safety tips to follow, courtesy St. John Trauma Services Injury Prevention.
Motor vehicle safety and awareness
• Motorists should pay special attention to the streets and watch for children who dart between cars or cross the street in the middle of the block. This is especially important since they sometimes forget to look both ways and cross only at the corner or crosswalk.
• Special attention is needed as motorists enter and exit driveways and alleys. Watch for children walking on the road, in medians and on curbs. As the sun sets and twilight begins, it’s especially difficult to see children in dark clothing. Headlights are helpful, but staying alert to the activity in the area is essential.
Trick-or-treating tips for parents
• Feed your child a substantial dinner before going out trick-or-treating to help avoid the temptation of eating candy before they get home. This will allow you to do a safety check on any candy received. This will also help them be less enticed with junk food while out trick-or-treating.
• Parents need to make sure that there is parent or trusted older child or adult going out with children under age 12. If an older sibling is going to trick-or-treat, also remind them to hold the younger child’s hand when crossing the streets.
• Work with your children to plan the route they will follow for trick-or-treating, and give them a cell phone that is pre-programmed with your number and emergency numbers to carry with them. Instruct them to call immediately if there are problems or if they are lost. The planned route needs to be in familiar areas and not too far from home.
• If you are not escorting your children in their trick-or-treating, pin a slip of paper with the child’s name, address, and phone number in a pocket.
• Children also need reminding to not go to dark homes or homes of strangers, and to never go in a house or car with a stranger.
• Set a curfew and have children call home immediately if they’re going to be late. Just before they plan to leave the house, discuss safety rules you expect them to follow while out.
Costumes and masks present their own set of challenges. Use these tips to ensure your child’s safety:
• Ensure the costume is made of flame retardant material and is short enough so your child’s feet don’t get tangled in the fabric and cause a fall.
• Costumes should be large enough for warm clothing to be worn underneath and need to be a color that is easily seen at night or have reflective tape applied to enhance visibility.
• When developing their character, face paint or makeup is a better alternative to masks that obstruct or reduce the child’s vision.
• Any accessories like pirate’s swords or knives should to be made of soft, flexible material or cardboard so your child or other children are not injured if they fall.
General safety for trick-or-treating
Remind your children to walk on the sidewalks and out of roadways. If a sidewalk is not available, they should walk on their left side of the road, facing on-coming traffic and close to the curb. This increases their visibility to drivers. Have them carry a flashlight if they will be out after dark, and decorate bags with reflective tape for visibility enhancement.