HERSHEY, Pa. — By now, there's a good chance you've purchased your child's Halloween costume, and unearthed the Jack-o'-lantern style candy buckets from storage.
Your kids are ready for trick-or-treating, but are you?
The annual neighborhood candy conquest has become a rite of passage for children and pre-teens. However, kids are too busy thinking about which house is giving out the full-sized candy bars, and not safety. That's why we, as parents, have to be the responsible ones, even if our children are old enough to be out and about on their own.
"The number one thing is as parents, or as the responsible adult in the house, is overseeing the trick-or-treating," Amy Bollinger, head of pediatric trauma at Penn State Children's Hospital in Hershey said.
No one is saying we have to be helicopter parents, but we should go along with our kids and stay, at most, about 10 feet behind them as they walk from house to house.
Parents should also always have flashlights, Bollinger says, which is pretty easy considering most cell phones come equipped now.
However, not all kids have cell phones, and getting them to carry around a physical flashlight might take away from their cool cred. Bollinger suggests finding glow sticks or glow necklaces for children to wear around the neighborhood.
Anything to highlight the physical presence of your child is a positive. According to the child safety nonprofit, Safe Kids Worldwide, twice as many kids are hit by a car and killed on Halloween/Trick-Or-Treat Night than any other night of the year.
"Not one Halloween has passed or trick-or-treat night has passed where we haven't had one, two, three, even four kids flown into the trauma center because they were hit by a car," Bollinger said.
There are simple steps Bollinger, and others, suggest you can take to keep your children safe.
First, if there is no sidewalk in the neighborhood you're walking in, or if you're Trick-or-treating in a rural area, walk as far to the side of the road as you can, and make sure you're looking at traffic.
Second, look both ways when you cross the street, make sure you only cross at the corner, and use the crosswalks when available. Also, avoid walking between parked cars, as an oncoming car may not see your child if they pop out onto the street at the last second.
Third, stay on main roads wherever you are, and avoid walking through yards and alleyways.
Bollinger also suggests keeping your kids' costumes from being too baggy, as a long or loose costume could be a safety hazard as they're running, in that children could trip over it or a costume could get caught on a wayward bush or branch and rip.
She also says to avoid approaching homes with their lights out. There's a good chance if porch lights are off, either no one is home or the homeowner isn't participating in trick-or-treating.
Drivers are responsible too. Know when trick-or-treating is in your neighborhood. A full list of trick-or-treat events in your municipality are available here. Most events run from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. when it's dark outside.