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Protect your little pumpkin: Pedestrian safety on Halloween

While kids across Sacramento are delighting in their new Elsa or Anna costume or searching for the biggest container possible to collect their candy, parents should be forewarned about the dangers associated with this holiday.

On October 31 each year, we see a large number of children on our sidewalks and roads, walking from door to door exclaiming "trick or treat!" As you would expect, the increase in the number of pedestrians on this day also results in a significant rise in the number of pedestrian accidents across the country.

According to data from the National Center for Statistics and Analysis, a shocking 115 child pedestrians were killed in accidents from 1990 to 2010 on Halloween. In all, the average number of children who lose their lives in pedestrian crashes on a given day doubles on Halloween each year.

Consequently, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends some safety tips, to ensure everyone enjoys this spooky holiday.

First, make sure your children are not trick or treating by themselves. If they are young - under 12 years of age, according to safety experts - go with them or ensure another adult is present. If they are older and no longer want to trick or treat with you, make certain they are going with a group of friends. In fact, it is a good idea to remind older children that they need to be particularly careful, as they are likely to forget the typical rules of the road when out celebrating with friends. In all, about one-third of all child pedestrian fatalities from 1990 to 2010 involved older kids, between the ages of 12 and 15, according to the National Center for Statistics and Analysis.

Dark costumes - witches, black cats and skeletons - are popular favorites, but can increase the likelihood that a motorist will not be able to spot your child. As a result, it is a good idea to add reflective tape to your child's costume and bag. You want drivers to see your child easily when he or she is going from house to house. In addition, it is a good idea to avoid masks - which could make it difficult for your child to see - and other accessories that could pose a risk, such as toy swords.

Finally, remind your children about the normal rules of the road to make sure they are safe as pedestrians. Try to cross in designated crosswalks. Look left, right and left again before walking across the street. Don't run from one house to another, no matter how much candy they're trying to collect. While this may seem like an obvious suggestion, only about 35 percent of parents talk to their kids about Halloween safety each year, according to a study conducted by Safe Kids Worldwide.

After reviewing these safety tips with your children, you can relax and enjoy the holiday - or, at least, only be scared by the ghouls and goblins knocking at your door.

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