It is that time of year again – time to find a costume, attend Halloween parties and take your kids trick-or-treating. The scariest part of Halloween, however, should not be a personal injury. Thousands of families spend the holiday in hospitals and emergency rooms due to often-preventable accidents. This year, avoid injuries by making safety your top priority as you enjoy the season.
Your child’s costume can contribute to his or her safety if you choose wisely. Pick one with bright colors and reflective features to improve visibility while trick-or-treating. This can help drivers in your neighborhood see the walking children and slow down or avoid them. Put reflective tape on trick-or-treating bags to help as well. Make sure swords and other costume accessories are short and made of soft materials. Check to make sure your child’s costume and wig are flame-retardant. Hats and masks should fit properly so as not to impede your child’s vision. The costume should be short enough to not trip your child while walking.
Send an adult or responsible teenager to accompany young children trick-or-treating. Kids should move in groups to increase safety and visibility. Teach your kids to stay off the road, even if a neighborhood has closed the road to drivers. Stick to sidewalks and crosswalks for optimal safety. Children should always look both ways before crossing a street. If your kids have cellphones, tell them not to text and walk. Teach your kids never to enter a stranger’s home or vehicle while trick-or-treating. Tell them not to eat any candy until they have returned home and you have checked it for problems. They should have a snack before they leave so they are not hungry while walking around. Give them a flashlight to avoid slip and fall accidents.
If you are driving on Halloween, do so with extra care. Keep your speed low and constantly scan the road ahead for children and pedestrians. Try to avoid driving in neighborhoods where trick-or-treaters are likely. Children may run into the road unexpectedly; keep your foot near the brake pedal to prepare to stop in an emergency. Never drink and drive. Look out for drunk drivers on the road with you, especially if driving at night. If you notice anyone swerving, weaving, drifting or otherwise driving erratically, avoid them and call the police to report a potential drunk driver.
Putting up Halloween décor is many people’s favorite part of the holiday. It can also be a health and safety hazard, however. If you are using a ladder, make sure you do so safely and with a spotter. Hire a professional to put lights on your home if you worry about a fall accident. Do not overload outlets or circuits, as this could lead to an electrical fire. Decorate with artificial candles instead of real ones, including inside Jack-o-lanterns. If you are having house guests, avoid placing any trip-and-fall hazards in walkways. Light paths adequately to help avoid falls. Do not use strobe lighting if you will have anyone present with a history of epilepsy, seizures or photosensitivity.
When your kids get back from trick-or-treating, have them empty their bags so you can sort through the candy. Even if you trust your neighbors, it is a good idea to look through candy for signs of something wrong. Throw out anything that appears homemade or not in its original wrapper, including baked goods, candy apples and popcorn balls. Toss out candy that has torn or opened wrappers. Feel candy for strange lumps or foreign objects. Any candy that appears strange, as if from a company you have never heard of or with funny smells, should not pass inspection. Search carefully for glass, needles, razors or pins. If you find anything dangerous, call the police and report the incident immediately.