Halloween can be one the most fun-filled nights of the year for kids, but it also can also pose some safety challenges for parents and drivers.
KING 5 asked Pediatrician Wendy Sue Swanson, MD for some tips to help keep kids safe. Halloween night car crashes ranked high on her list of concerns.
"We know kids are 2 times as likely to be hit by a car on Halloween than any other day of the year. You're running around in the dark from house to house, which you don't normally do. And you're excited," Swanson pointed out. "Their goals supersede their thinking about safety," Swanson said.
1. Choose bright costumes, and have children carry flashlights or glow sticks so they are easily visible. Try adding reflective tape to costumes, jackets and candy bags.
2. Plan a trick-or-treating route in familiar neighborhoods with well-lit streets. Teach children to stop only at well-lit houses and to never to enter a stranger's home or garage
3. Never send younger children out alone; they should be with a parent, guardian, or another trusted adult.
"At the time a child turns 13, that's when I think pediatricians endorse the idea of letting your child go without a parent. Build trust by making sure you have a plan. They could go with a group of kids that hopefully you as a parent trust as well. You should have communication with their parents. Make a plan that says 'check in with me every hour'. If they don't check in with you, make sure you check in with them," Swanson advised.
4. Make sure your kids' costumes fit well. Long costumes that drag on the ground can be dangerous, especially at night. Avoid costumes and masks that obscure a child's ability to see.
6. Have an emergency plan just in case you get separated from your kids. Write down your cell phone number so they can get in touch with you.
7. Stay on sidewalks and avoid walking in streets if possible. Cross streets only at the corner, and never cross between parked vehicles or mid-block.
8. Only keep factory sealed treats. Sort through your kids' goodies when they get home to make sure all their snacks are sealed. Toss any candy with damaged packaging or homemade treats made by a stranger.
Swanson is also a proponent of getting rid of the candy sooner than later.
"What you don't want to do is stretch out all the Halloween candy into the next three months. I say, go crazy. Maybe have dinner before you go out trick or treating so kids are not so overwhelmed with that sugar content," she said.
A few days after Halloween, Swanson suggests pulling a 'Switch Witch'.
"Somebody shows up at your door. You leave the candy out, and there is a little prize left behind for all that candy you don't need anymore. Then donate that candy as much as you can," she added.
Washington State Patrol Trooper Brian Moore adds that drivers need to be on high alert Halloween night.
TIPS FOR DRIVERS:
1. Slow down when entering neighborhoods. They'll likely be filled with trick or treaters.
2. Be prepared to stop for children in the roadway. Stay alert and slow down! Excited children could jump in front of you in a dark costume.
3. If you're going to a party -- don't forget to drive sober.
Local community events are also a safe alternative to children crossing multiple neighborhood streets. Check your local community event calendars for times and locations.