Tips for a safe, happy Halloween

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HILL AIR FORCE BASE, Utah — We are entering the time of year when scary creatures come out and walk the earth for one night. Trick or treat hours in the military family housing areas are 6-9 p.m., Oct. 31.

During Halloween, there are some things we really need to think about before our kids venture out among the spooky creatures to fill their bags with goodies. Our kids’ safety is priority #1.

Start by selecting a safe costume. Some costumes are scary, cute or very cool. However, they may be flammable or restrict a child’s vision or ability to breathe properly, thus creating a hazardous condition. Always read the warning labels before purchasing any costume. There are far too many candles burning around homes to allow our children to wear flammable costumes while trick or treating. It is important to make sure the costume fits properly and doesn’t drag on the ground when walking. This may create a tripping hazard which could ruin the trick-or-treating experience for the entire group.

Before beginning the adventure, always take time to discuss the route trick-or-treaters will follow, along with meeting points in case anyone is separated from the group. Consider giving them a cell phone so they can reach you easily and teach children how to call 911 in an emergency. Make sure children know your cell phone number, their home telephone number, and address in case they get separated from the group. We need to talk with our children and make sure they understand to stop only at well-lit houses and to never to enter a stranger’s home or garage.

Ensure all kids are dressed in bright-colored costumes to be easily seen by motorists. If bright colors are not available, consider keeping plenty of glow sticks and flashlights on hand. Most kids don’t mind having glow sticks with them at night. We can also add reflective tape to costumes and candy bags to be easily seen by motorists.

As children venture out to trick or treat, their risk of being injured by motorists increases greatly. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports that Halloween is consistently one of the top three days for pedestrian injuries and fatalities, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that children are four times more likely to be struck by a motor vehicle on Halloween than any other day of the year. Excited trick-or-treaters often forget about safety and motorists so parents must be even more alert. We need to teach them how to make eye contact with vehicle operators before they step into the street when crossing and to always use crosswalks.

We need to make sure we accompany our kids to keep them safe from strangers, traffic and animals that may be on the loose. If you are not available to accompany your kids, make sure a responsible adult is with them at all times. Always stay in familiar areas for the safety of your group.

If you are out driving during trick or treating hours, be extra cautious in neighborhoods and anywhere you see trick-or-treaters out on the prowl. Look for children crossing the street. They may not be paying attention to traffic and cross the street mid-block or between parked cars. One way I have found to make the trick or treating adventure safer is to attend trunk-or-treat get-togethers. There are generally many churches and other organizations out there that participate in trick or treating. This will keep our kids away from the roadway and in a more protective area.

Tell the children not to eat any treats until they get home when mom and dad can inspect the treasures to make sure they have not been tampered with.

Have a safe and happy

Halloween!