Fall safety tips

New England autumn brings with it shorter days, cooler temperatures, and if your house is anything like mine, a hefty amount of football on Sundays. It’s pretty easy to see why fall is my favorite time of the year.

But fall isn’t just beautiful foliage and touch down passes—the season presents some unique safety hazards for kids. Fortunately, when well-informed parents and kids know what to look for, many of these accidents can be avoided.

Pedestrian safety

By now, school is back in full swing. Do your children walk or bike to class? Do they spend the after-school hours playing around the neighborhood? If so make sure they know and follow these safety rules:

  • ALWAYS watch for cars that are turning or backing up. Just because you can see the driver DOESN’T mean he or she can see you.
  • Look left, right and left again before crossing a street. Keep looking as you cross.
  • Walk, don’t run, across the street.
  • Walk on sidewalks or paths. If there are no sidewalks, walk facing oncoming traffic, as far to the left as possible.
  • Parents and children should hold hands while walking in parking lots.

Playground do’s and don’ts

Growing up, the last thing I heard as I left for the playground was my mother “reminding” me to take a jacket. (Nagging may be a more accurate description, but I’ll give mom the benefit of the doubt.)

“Take a coat” may be a near universal mom-ism, but what many people may not know is the type of jacket children wear on the playground is important for keeping them safe. Clothes with drawstrings, cords or unfastened belts can get caught on equipment as children run, possibly causing them to trip or even choke. Necklaces, dangling earrings and other accessories pose similar hazards, so when your child is on the playground, have them remove these items.

In addition:

  • Children should NEVER push or roughhouse while on jungle gyms, slides, seesaws, swings or other equipment.
  • Make sure kids use the equipment properly—slide feet first, don’t climb outside guardrails and don’t stand on swings.
  • There should be only one child on a playground device at a time. More than one child on any given device highly increases their risk of injury.

Keep Halloween happy

For most people under 15, Halloween is the fall season’s crowning jewel. (That goes for some of us over 15 too.)

Boston Children's Marketing and Communications office gets in the Halloween spirit

But ghosts and goblins aren’t half as scary as the potential harm that can come to children trick-or-treating in an unsafe way. This October 31st, make sure your little gremlins:

  • Walk in groups with a trusted adult. Never let children trick-or-treat alone.
  • Use a flashlight to help them see (and help others, especially drivers, see them).
  • Always walk. Children should never run from house to house.
  • Wear well-fitted masks, costumes and shoes to avoid blocked vision or trips and falls.

For more general safety tips, please visit Boston Children’s Hospital’s Injury Prevention Program page.