FORT LEE, Va. (Oct. 11, 2012) -- There are so many things to consider when thinking about keeping child safety while participating in Halloween activities. There are security aspects such as keeping them safe from predators and candy tampering. There are fire safety matters such as fire-resistant costumes and using battery-powered lighting verses candle light and open flame. Pedestrian safety on Halloween requires additional attention.
Children are four times more likely to sustain an injury or die as a result of being struck by a motor vehicle on Halloween because it poses many additional risks for pedestrians. Children normally spend time outdoors during daylight hours, but many Halloween-related activities, like trick-or-treating, take place after dark and many costumes are dark in color.
These factors add to the difficulty a driver has identifying a pedestrian after dark. It also has a significant impact on a driver’s ability to react and stop, especially where speed is involved. The faster the vehicle goes, the longer its stopping distance will be, and if the stopping distance exceeds the limit of its headlights, a driver just cannot see to stop in time.
A study conducted by the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute found that a combination of darkness and speed multiply the risk of pedestrian fatalities seven times on high-speed, limited-access roadways, five times on urban arterial roads and three times on slower local roads.
Young children are harder to spot simply because of their small stature. If they come from unexpected places, drivers are even less likely to see them. As children trick-or-treat door-to-door, they may cross streets in the middle of the block or walk out into the road between parked vehicles. Costumes and masks can also impair children’s vision and agility, causing them to become clumsy and less aware of their surroundings. Kids may be so excited about Halloween they are just not thinking about potential traffic threats. So, parents and motorists must take the lead to prevent more needless accidents.
Parents, here are ways to keep children safe:
• Always accompany them or have them go with another responsible adult.
• Have children walk, not run, from house to house.
• Outfit your children with light or brightly colored costumes and employ retro-reflective gear or tape with their costumes.
• Talk to them about traffic hazards and other risks.
• Ensure masks fit well or use make-up instead.
• Have them carry flashlights so they can both see and be seen.
• Use walkways where possible and never run across alleys or yards where ornaments, furniture or clotheslines might present dangers.
• Don’t step out between parked vehicles to cross a street.
• Children should go only to homes where the residents are known and have outside lights on as a sign of welcome.
• Children should not enter homes or apartments unless they are accompanied by an adult.
Motorists, slow down, especially in residential areas and put down the cell phone. Expect the unexpected.
People expecting trick-or-treaters should remove anything that could be an obstacle from lawns, steps and porches. Candlelit jack-o-lanterns should be kept away from all flammable materials.
Make this Halloween a memorable one for all the right reasons.
Halloween ranks among the top three injury-producing holidays, according to a study by the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons. Most of the seasonal injuries are to fingers and hands. Of those, lacerations were the most prevalent with fractures coming in second. Children between the ages of 10-14 sustain the most injuries.
Here are some safety tips for carving pumpkins:
• Small children should never carve pumpkins. Allow children to participate by drawing a face or other design on the pumpkin and then parents can do the cutting.
• Choose your utensils carefully. Larger, sharper knives are not always a better choice; consider using or purchasing a pumpkin carving kit. Experts have found carving saws to be less likely to cause injury but caution should still be exercised no matter what utensil is used.
• Carve in a clean, dry and well-lit area. Moisture can cause slipping and injury so ensure carving tools, cutting surfaces and hands are clean and dry before getting started.
• When beginning to carve the pumpkin, always cut away from yourself and cut in small, controlled strokes. Children can help by removing the pulp and seeds from the pumpkin.
• Consider using a flashlight or glow stick instead of a candle to light your pumpkin. If you do use a candle, a votive candle is safest.
• Candlelit pumpkins indoors should be placed on a sturdy table, away from curtains and other flammable objects, and should never be left unattended.
• Pumpkin decorating kits are another option. Children can paint, glue or attach objects to a pumpkin without the hazard of carving.