Stories of Halloween hazards are usually concerned with some sort of spiked candy but it turns out that though the possibility of contaminated treats should not be ignored, the incidents of finding such candy is extremely rare. A more realistic hazard to children on Halloween is the increased chance of them getting hit by a car. According to a 1997 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) study an average of one child died per night from 1975-1996 however, during these 21 years, four children died between 4 p.m. and 10 p.m. on Halloween. This dramatic fourfold increase in children’s Halloween deaths is alarming.
A recent posting on Myhealth.ucsd.edu offers some explanations and recommendations to curtail the high death rate of children on Halloween.The increased death rates on Halloween can mainly be attributed to cars hitting children. Special circumstances include:
- "Children are out in the dark;
- Costumes are usually dark and masks may impair their vision and hearing;
- Children are usually excited and distracted;
- They usually take the shortest route across the street instead of the safest;
- They are not accustomed to being out at night."
Some suggestions to ensure the safety of your children:
- "Set up a route for your children’s trick-or-treating and make sure you are familiar with the neighborhood and the neighbors;
- Make sure children under 12 are accompanied by adults;
- If children over 12 are unaccompanied by adults make sure they are going to be with a group;
- Make sure your children know basic traffic safety rules: stopping before crossing the street, crossing only at cross walks, and using flashlights so that they can see and be seen better;
- Consider replacing a face mask with face paint so that children’s vision and hearing aren’t impaired;
- Make sure costumes are well fitting so that children can’t trip;
- Avoid costume props that are rigid and/or sharp so that if a child should fall they won’t be further injured by their prop;
- Look through the candy your children collect before they consume it to make sure nothing has been tampered with."
It is also important to exercise safety precautions as an adult, especially if you will be driving on Halloween or accepting Trick-or-Treaters. If at all possible avoid driving at night on Halloween but if you must, make sure to use extreme caution as children are less visible and can jump out into the road at any moment. Take extra caution in backing out of driveways as small children may not be taller than the back of your car and can go completely unseen.
Home owners are responsible for the safety of anyone who comes to their home. Recommendations posted on a PRWeb.com article increase the safety of your home for trick-or-treaters include:
- "If you have jack-o-lanterns, light them with flashlights or battery operated light sources instead of candles.
- If you have pumpkins with candles in them, make sure they are out of the way of children.
- Dogs are often disturbed by the abnormalities of Halloween and may become aggressive, make sure that dogs can’t come in contact with trick-or-treaters, no matter how friendly they generally are.
- Make sure that the path the children will take is well lit and cleared of any objects that they may trip over, you should also smooth out any bumps in the path to avoid tripping.
- Cover any holes or place warning cones around them, including swimming pools."
Following sensible precautions will enhance enjoyment of Halloween, not inhibit it.
Previously posted on the DC Metro Area Personal Injury Law Blog:
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