The old Celts celebrated their new year on November 1, ushering winter — with its increased risk of death — in at the same time. The night before, they believed, the worlds of the living and the dead melted together, the souls of the dead returning, both wreaking havoc and helping priests foretell the future. On that night, the night of October 31, they'd don costumes and light bonfires to chase off ghosts and then perform rituals hoping to stay safe through the winter.
Halloween has evolved a bit since then! The Samhain the Celts celebrated was taken over first by a Roman, and then a Christian holiday. While old habits die hard and the new holidays blended with the old, the Halloween most people know today isn't a religious, but a secular holiday — for most devoid of any kind of symbolism, and instead filled with family fun.
You've heard of poison-laced and razor-harboring Halloween candies hiding in your unsuspecting trick or treater's stash. (Yep, that's an urban myth.) You've heard of the death-cry producing "I ate my kid's Halloween candy" videos parents seemingly possessed by Jimmy Kimmel keep putting up. (Some people might even call it abusive parenting.)
You might know that over 10,000 fires are reported in the US during the three days around Halloween, causing something to the tune of 125 injuries and 25 deaths, as well as a whopping $83 million in lost properties. (That's more than during other fall days, to be sure, but not much more.)
You might know that pumpkin carving is one of the reasons kids end up in the ER over Halloween, and that not all novelty contact lenses that seem to perfectly complement your cute costume meet safety standards.
Indeed, with all the Halloween safety articles rightfully circulating around the web around this time of year, you are quite probably aware that tea lights and highly flammable synthetic materials, of the kind many Halloween costumes are made out of, are not a good combination.
You may also be concerned about your kids eating too much sugar on Halloween, fueling the obesity epidemic, and about the people opening the door to your trick or treaters turning out to be child abductors.
It is cars that are most likely to pose the biggest danger to your kids on Halloween! Research spanning over two decades revealed that fatal car accidents involving child pedestrians more than double on October 31, making this spooky holiday the deadliest time of year to be a young pedestrian.
What do parents need to know to keep their kids safe from car accidents on Halloween? The answer may surprise you.
Halloween Car Accident Stats: Spooky
Child pedestrian deaths more than double during Halloween, making this wholesome family holiday the deadliest time of your for a child to be out and about on foot, data reveals. Thirty-one percent of parents, being aware of the risks, have expressed concerns about their child's traffic safety, yet 12 percent of them allow their under-fives to go trick or treating without parental supervision. As few of us would allow to our preschoolers to wander the streets on their lonesome, we can probably assume that those children are under the supervision of older siblings.
If that sounds like a good plan to you, you may be surprised to learn that most child pedestrian fatalities on Halloween, 32 percent, were children between the ages of 12 and 15 — children who you might assume are responsible enough to go out trick or treating by themselves and with younger brothers and sisters in tow. Twenty-three percent of fatal card accidents on October 31, meanwhile, concerned kids aged five to eight.
You know what else? Forty-three percent involved drunk drivers, and a third of all fatal car accidents featured drivers below the age of 25 behind the wheel. It's a myth that your child is most likely to be hit by a car on busy intersections, and that they'll be fine on quieter neighborhood roads, too.
What Can You Do To Keep Your Kids Safe From Car Accidents This Halloween?
Your 12 to 15 year old kids might not think it's cool if you go out trick or treating with them, but the frightening data mentioned above shows that you have more than enough reason to do exactly that — or alternatively, you could host a (tea-light free) Halloween party in your home. Since drunk drivers and young drivers both play a large role in the fatalities that do happen over Halloween, you could encourage your youngsters to refrain from driving, as well as of course from drinking, on this night.
No matter your kids' age group, brightly-colored Halloween costumes featuring reflective strips, and the use of flash lights or bright jack o' lanterns, will keep them more visible.
Go trick or treating together with your kids, talk to them about safety in advance, and stick to sidewalks wherever you're able to. If sidewalks are not available, walk facing oncoming traffic and get out the way well before any cars are within reach. Use cross walks, always look left and right, and never run but instead walk, while crossing.
Consider avoiding driving yourself on Halloween, but if you do, make sure not to drink and to be aware of potential trick or treaters on the road. Remember that some kids wear costumes that make them less visible rather than more visible, so pay extra attention.