Hallowe’en seems like the perfect time for a discussion about “visibility” and “line of sight”. Masks and other costumes can obstruct a trick-or-treater’s vision; a child may not see approaching people or vehicles, and may trip and fall over obstacles that they cannot see.

When you can only see forward, your peripheral vision is impaired; you must turn the neck to see hazards approaching from the side. If the costume is bulky, you may have to turn your entire body, stepping left and right, to see. You might make the effort to “look both ways” before crossing a street, and you will probably turn to the side if you hear an approaching hazard. If the costume covers the ears, the trick-or-treater may not hear an approaching hazard until it is too late.

Not being able to see downward can also be a hazard, particularly if the costume, or a friend’s costume, includes a trip hazard. Hills, stairs and curbs are more challenging. Taking the shortest path between doors might involve avoiding yard displays. (Those of us with bifocals or progressive lenses can relate – tricky footing is difficult when “down” is blurry!)

Visibility has recently been given more attention by the Ontario Ministry of Labour, Immigration, Training and Skills Development, primarily as it pertains to a driver’s ability to see other people in the work environment. A spring 2022 inspection blitz focused on “struck bys”. “Warehousing ergonomics” is currently the focus of a blitz that runs until March 2023. Drivers’ vision may be obstructed by parts of the vehicle, the load on the vehicle, or other structures in the environment. Lighting, contrast, expectations of pedestrians, and other factors can also play a role. More information is available on the Ministry website.

Set your kids up for a highly visible Halloween experience:

  • Let them “warm up” for trick-or-treating with an at-home visibility test. Act like the easter bunny and place candy on the floor and in various locations around the house and dim the lights. Can your costumed trick-or-treaters see up, down, and side-to-side? Can they climb up and down stairs without tripping? If not, adjust the costumes for safety.
  • Add some reflective tape, glow sticks, or reflective clothing to their costume, so a headlight or flashlight makes them “light up”.
  • Plan a route that does not require crossing the street, or climbing up and down stairs and hills. Use a crosswalk when necessary to cross the street.

For more safe Hallowe’en tips, check out the Government of Canada’s website.

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