What's The No. 1 Cause of Death Attributed to Halloween?
The No. 1 cause of death attributed to Halloween is not from candy containing poison, razor blades, ground glass or pins and needles. It is not from monsters - imagined or real, nor, is hyperglycemia. Rather, the No. 1 cause of death attributed to Halloween is by unintentional injury from a pedestrian being struck by a car. According to the Centers for Disease Control, pedestrian death is four times more likely during a night of trick-or-treating than on any other night of the year.
Data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) during the period of 1975-1996 was analyzed by the CDC in a report that highlighted the dangers of Halloween for children between the ages of 5 and 14. The CDC found that during that 21-year period between the hours of 4 p.m. and 10 p.m., 89 children between the ages of 5 and 14 died from being struck by a vehicle while crossing a street.
In comparison to the total number of deaths throughout the same time period, this translated into an average of 4 deaths occurring on Halloween night each year compared to an average of one death during the same hours on any other night.
According to the report, Halloween creates a special set of environmental and behavioral risks that make child pedestrian mortality a serious concern for parents and drivers. Some of these risks include:
• Trick or treating during hours of darkness based on daylight savings time changes
• Door-to-door street crossing at mid-street locations rather than at crosswalks and corners
• Low-visibility costumes and masks that limit side vision
• Halloween mania where costumed figures, promises of candy and a heightened level of holiday excitement creates distractions
• Poor judgment due to age and level of maturity development
• Poor parental or adult supervision
To lessen the risks associated with deaths attributed to Halloween, safety officials recommend that parents ensure that their children have a safe and happy Halloween by following a few common sense tips:
1. Costumes: Choose costumes that aren’t too long or baggy that could cause a child to trip and fall while crossing a street.
2. Masks: Avoid vision-limiting full-face masks that can prevent little eyes from seeing oncoming cars. Face paint and makeup are safer alternatives; however, if a mask is a must, enlarge the eye holes to make seeing easier.
3. Visibility: Have your child wear bright colors or attach reflective tape to their costumes to make them more visible to motorists. Or, provide them a flashlight or glow stick to increase their visibility. Also, stay away from streets that are poorly lit.
4. Pedestrian rules: Remind your child to look in both directions for oncoming vehicles and always use crosswalks rather than cutting across a street from house to house. Hold their hands to help them cross the street safely and to prevent them from darting across traffic.
5. Supervision: Never let your child go trick-or-treating alone. Children under the age of 10 should be accompanied by an adult at all times. For older children, try to arrange their trick-or-treating in groups where there’s safety in numbers.
6. Planning: Establish a planned route ahead of time noting typical traffic patterns during trick-or-treating hours.
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