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Kevin Smith is public relations manager at the National Safety Council, a former Illinois law enforcement officer and father of two. • 10/30/2017

A Halloween Vision

Seeing – and being seen – need to be trick-or-treat priorities.

A Halloween Vision

​Blog – Here's the thing about Jenny: She's 5 years old, and when it comes to rolling her eyes, acting put-upon and using charm (or manipulation) to get what she wants, she acts about 13. But when it comes to impulse control out in the open, my daughter is 5 going on 3, which is why as a father I'm a little scared about Halloween.

It can be a frightening holiday, even without the ghosts and goblins. The numbers show that kids are more than twice as likely to be hit by a car and killed on Halloween then on any other day of the year. Among these tragedies, more than 60% happen between 5 and 9 p.m., and 70% occur away from an intersection or a crosswalk.

So before Jenny joins her brother, cousins and friends on her annual march toward a sugar rush, I'm going to be thinking about visibility from two perspectives: Making sure the young trick-or-treaters can see, and making sure they can be seen.

The hazards of the holiday are many, including cars coming down the street, uneven steps leading up front doors and fourth-grade ninjas who just can't help swinging their swords. Being able to see what's coming means having unobstructed peripheral vision, downward as well as to the sides.

That means I'll be pushing for make-up instead of a mask; it's just as much fun if not more so (for my kindergartener at least) while allowing her to see everything she needs to see. If a mask is the only way to go with a costume, I'll be using scissors or other tools to widen the eye holes to give a little more vision sideways and downward.  On Halloween, costumes need to let you see where you're going and let you see what's coming.

Helping Jenny and her tribe see is just the first step – making sure they can be seen is the second. While many communities have specific hours for trick-or-treating, shorter days means that kids will be out there for at least a couple hours after the sun has set. So while I'd like to think that every driver knows that Halloween driving means being constantly alert for the princesses and pirates, I'll be taking three steps to make my trick-or-treaters more visible:

  • Step one will be a flashlight; Jenny loves to carry one around, and more often than not will leave it somewhere still turned on, but on Halloween I'll take that chance
  • Step two will be glow sticks; the neon colored, straw-size sticks can be worn as bracelets and necklaces, and the light will last for hours
  • Step three will be to apply reflective tape anywhere I can; even if the tape doesn't fit neatly on a costume, it can be attached to shoes or a candy bag, and it could catch the headlights of a car just in time to prevent a tragedy

For most of my life, Halloween has never been a particularly frightening event. The movies don't scare me, haunted houses are just a bit startling and the impressive home decorations in my community leave me envious, not anxious. But now, as a father, the combination of distracted drivers, fading sunlight and kids focused on free candy instead of moving cars has me nervous. I'll be doing what I can to keep everyone safe.

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