The spookiest night of year is upon us. Children and parents will be hitting the streets in droves on Friday for some trick or treating fun. I remember dressing up, usually as a ghost or a vampire, and walking up and down Morningside Drive with a pillow case. It was a great neighborhood for trick-or-treating–lots of kids, a quiet street, friendly neighbors and loads of candy.
At the end of the night my pillow case was usually full and sugar had replaced blood in my veins. The excitement was always so intense that safety was the last thing on our minds. Unfortunately, in all the costume and sugar-fueled excitement, Halloween hides some very real dangers.
A study by the Centers for Disease Control found that the number of deaths among young pedestrians increased four times on Halloween evening compared with all other evenings of the year. This makes some sense. There are a lot of children on the streets. These children are usually short, may be dressed in dark costumes and may be running around wildly all hopped up on Milky Ways and Whoppers.
Please keep the following safety recommendations in mind this Halloween:
• If possible, trick-or-treat during daylight hours. If this is not possible, provide flashlights or glow sticks to children and incorporate reflective tape into their costumes to make them more visible.
• Attach your child’s name, address and home phone number to their costumes. You may also want your child to carry a cell phone in case they need to call you.
• Adults should accompany younger children, particularly those 12 and under.
• Identify the neighborhood and route your children will take for trick-or-treating. Ideally it should be a neighborhood you know well. It should be well lit and have designated sidewalks.
• Rethink any costumes that limit a child’s eyesight or mobility.
• Remind your children to walk from house to house and to use designated crosswalks or street corners when crossing the street.
• Avoid bikes, skateboards, roller blades and scooters.
• Set a time for your children to be home, and inspect the loot when they arrive.
And a few other things:
• Keep your pets indoors or in cages.
• Avoid candles in pumpkins outside your homes. Children may be dressed in long flowing costumes which might catch on fire if exposed to a flame.
• If you are driving, be aware of young children and drive with extreme caution.
Andrew Peterson is a Certified Industrial Hygienist with over 10 years of experience working in the environmental and occupational health field. In addition to writing, he is currently the Environment, Health and Safety Manager for a medium-sized company that has been voted one of Fortune Magazine’s Best Places to Work and one of CRO Magazine’s 100 Best Corporate Citizens. He lives in California with his wife and adopted pound puppies.