Halloween is almost here- an exciting night of candy, costumes, and celebrations. But for parents, Halloween can also be a night full of dangers and safety concerns that can have anxieties running on high.
The streets can be a dangerous place for trick-or-treaters on Halloween. In 2015, a tragic car accident involving a driver experiencing a medical episode behind the wheel resulted in the death of three pedestrians in the Bronx after he drove onto the sidewalk- one of them a 10-year-old girl trick-or-treating. A deadly car accident like this could happen at any time, but with the massive increase in pedestrians out on the street, the chances on Halloween are higher.
The National Safety Council (NSC) reports that children are twice as likely to be hit and killed by a car on Halloween than any other day of the year. Crosswalks and intersections are especially dangerous on this holiday. Out of the 7,330 pedestrian fatalities reported back in 2016, 18% of these deaths occurred at intersections and road crossings, a popular place to find trick-or-treaters dashing across the road in the dark.
Picking out or making a costume for Halloween is one of the most exciting parts of the holiday. But picking the wrong costume or adding dangerous features can greatly increase anyone’s chances of being injured this holiday. Costumes can lead to anything from minor cuts and bruises, to broken bones from falls or even fatal injuries from obstructive views while on busy streets.
Cosmopolitan lists nine of the most common costume designs and props that can cause injuries this Halloween:
- Vintage clothing (carry dust mites that trigger allergies and asthma)
- Floor-length fabrics (tripping hazards)
- Metal accessories (lacerations and skin irritations)
- New shoes (ankle and foot injuries)
- Borrowed costumes (bacteria and germs)
- Cheap makeup (skin and eye irritations)
- Masks (vision obstructions)
- Contact lenses (eye injuries, vision obstructions)
- Fake glasses (headaches, eye injuries, vision obstructions)
Horror stories about razor blades and needles in Halloween candy have been plaguing the holiday for years. Though some people believe these stories to be myths, several proven cases of people dangerously tampering with Halloween treats do exist and will make parents think twice about what’s in their child’s trick-or-treat bags:
- A woman from New York put ant traps laced with arsenic, steel wool and dog treats in teenage trick or treat back bags in 1964. Her reasoning was she thought the teens were too old to be trick-or-treating.
- Another woman in New York in 2014 claimed to discover shards of glass inside of Tootsie Pops her children got around Halloween time.
Not all treats have to be tampered with to be dangerous. Treats that are unwrapped or some homemade goods could contain foodborne illnesses from improper handling. Other children could be at risk of allergic reactions if they snack on candy without their parents double checking the ingredients.
Halloween is not as much fun for your pets as it is for your kids, often leading them to get sick, seriously injured, or cause them to injure others when they normally wouldn’t. Dogs can be poisoned from certain types of candies such as chocolate, causing horrible side effects such as diarrhea, rapid breathing, increased heart rate, vomiting, and seizures. Pets can be easily agitated by props, costumes, and the constant opening and closing of the door, causing them to display more aggressive and anxious behaviors than normal. Sadly, pranksters also have been known to tease, injure, steal, or even kill innocent animals on Halloween when they are left outside at night.
Be Safe This Halloween
To avoid any unnecessary injuries this holiday that could spoil your fun, SafeKids Worldwide and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) encourages all Halloween enthusiasts to follow these safety tips for a successful and safe night:
- Walk Safe: Make sure your young trick-or-treaters are extra cautious on the road this holiday and know basic traffic safety if old enough to go out on their own:
- Cross the street at clearly marked crosswalks or visible street corners.
- Look both ways before you cross the street.
- Put down the phone or other distractive devices.
- Walk, don’t run, so cars have plenty of time to see you coming.
- Make eye contact with drivers if possible when crossing the road.
- Use sidewalks if available or walk on the grass.
- If your child does not know basic traffic safety, they should be supervised by an adult.
- Never try to beat the cars on the road- they might not see you!
- Wear Safe (Costumes): Your costume may be super creative, but will not protect you if drivers cannot see you.
- Choose light colors for costumes or use reflectors or reflective tape so cars can see you.
- Try to avoid using masks so you have the best visibility of your surroundings.
- Give kids flashlights or glow sticks to help drivers spot them.
- Don’t wear costumes that have sharp elements sticking out of them to avoid hurting others.
- Wear costumes that are the right size to avoid trip and fall accidents.
- Always clean costumes before using.
- Wash off all makeup at the end of the night to avoid irritations to the skin and eyes.
- Drive Safe: If you are driving this Halloween, be alert to the increase in pedestrians and expect the unexpected:
- Enter and exit any driveways or parking lots slowly and carefully.
- Know the trick or treating hours in your neighborhood (typically 5:30 pm to 9:30 pm)
- Look for pedestrians at intersections, curbs, crosswalks, or medians before making turns.
- Drive slow and stay especially alert when in residential areas.
- Never drink and drive.
- Reduce the number of distractions in the vehicle: pedestrians, music, phones, GPS, etc.
- Eat Safe: With conspiracy theories about Halloween candy hazards aside, it’s better to be safe than sorry:
- Never eat unwrapped candy.
- Encourage your kids to wait until they get home to eat any candy.
- Remove candy that could be a choking hazard from young trick-or treater’s bags.
- If you kids have allergies, check all labels before allowing them to eat their treats.
- Only eat home-baked treats from neighbors you know and trust.
For pet owners, PetMD advises owners to keep their animals inside on Halloween and away from the door when possible. Never try to feed your pet Halloween treats and keep them away from young trick-or-treaters who may wave around glow sticks or other harmful propers that could hurt or agitate your animals.
Happy Halloween Long Island!
Whatever your plans are this holiday, our team at the law firm of Siler & Ingber wishes all Long Island families a happy and safe Halloween.