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October 29. 2013 8:29PM

Parents, motorists urged to keep Halloween safe

LEBANON — Safe Kids New Hampshire is urging parents and motorists to keep Halloween scares fun, not dangerous.

On average, twice as many children are struck and killed by vehicles while walking on Halloween than on any other day of the year, Jim Edson of Safe Kids New Hampshire said Tuesday.

Safe Kids New Hampshire is a Children's Hospital at Dartmouth and FedEx program that aims to educate the public on safety issues for those 19 and under.

"Just take that extra step to be a little bit more cautious. Nationally, it is the most dangerous night for kids (from) a pedestrian standpoint," he said.

Elementary school-age children should be given guidelines and be monitored by adults. Additionally, drivers out on Halloween should be more attentive to the roadway. Several things inside your car could distract you, including your own children.

"It's just like anything else, even cars that are in neighborhoods that are better lit, with these little guys there is still a chance of backing up into one," Edson said.

All children under the age of 12 should have an adult with them, he said. "There are studies out there that say children just don't have the cognitive skills to cross the street safety until 12."

Also, children should carry flashlights or glow sticks and opt for make-up instead of masks, which hinders the child's vision and take away the child's distinct human profile.

"If possible, wear face paint or makeup instead of masks," Edson said.

Parents are also urged to make sure their child's costume is not hanging too long or is too loose. Accidents can occur when a child trips on a floppy costume or it gets caught in a car door.

Along with road safety, parents should also remember to double check candy collected that night before letting their children eat it.

"Even though it's hard, any candy that you've seen that has been opened should be thrown away," Edson said.

For more tips on how to help kids become safer pedestrians on Halloween, and throughout the year, visit www.safekids.org .

Safety tips for kids:

Costumes can be both creative and safe. The most important thing is to make sure you can be seen by drivers. Decorate costumes and bags with reflective tape or stickers and, if possible, choose light colors. Masks can obstruct your vision, so choose non-toxic face paint and make-up whenever possible. Carry glow sticks or flashlights so you can see better, as well as be seen by drivers.

Cross the street safely 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.

Walk on sidewalks or paths. If there are no sidewalks, walk facing traffic as far to the left as possible.

Slow down and stay alert. Watch out for cars that are turning or backing up and don't dart out into the street or cross in between parked cars.

Top safety tips for drivers:

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 any distractions inside your car, such as talking on the phone or eating, so you can concentrate on the road and your surroundings.

mpierce@newstote.com


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