Usually a treat for children, Halloween is one of the most dangerous nights of the year, AARP offers tips to stay safe
Q: I remember in past years that you had a Halloween Safety Sheet that could be printed and used as a handout or poster. Do you still have those available?
Halloween is one of the most exciting nights of the year for children, but also one of the most dangerous. Except for the 4 th of July, more fires are reported on Halloween than any other day of the year. According to the United States Fire Administration, on Halloween, and the night before, suspicious structure fires are about 60 percent more frequent than on an average day. A study conducted by the National Fire Protection Association over a three-year period found that an average of 15,500 fires occurred between October 30 and November 1 causing $92 million in losses.
Children are four times more likely to be hit and killed by an automobile on Halloween night according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). Next to New Year’s, it is the second deadliest holiday for pedestrians.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) estimates that 4,000 serious injuries occur between 4-10 p.m. on Halloween involving children aged 5 to 14 nationwide. Pedestrian injury remains the second leading cause of unintentional injury-related death among children ages 5 to 14, according to the NHTSA.
Drivers need to be particularly cautious with the season’s shortened daylight hours and with children scurrying from house to house collecting treats -- It can be a very dangerous combination. Parents, grandparents, children, drivers and homeowners all should use a little extra caution and heed some common-sense safety tips.
Through the end of October, AARP Montana will have posted on its website at www.aarp.org/MT a free downloadable Halloween Safety Tipsheet for parents, grandparents, homeowners, schools or anyone else interested in staying safe this Halloween season.
Halloween Safety Tipsheet:
- Use face paints instead of masks.
- Require children to wear comfortable shoes and dress appropriately for weather conditions.
- Avoid costume accessories, such as knives, swords, broom handles and wands that could cause harm.
- Avoid loose-fitting costumes that could cause a child to trip and fall.
- Add reflective tape to costumes.
Trick or treating safety
- An adult should accompany young trick-or-treaters.
- Cover safety rules with kids before allowing them to go trick-or-treating.
- Set a trick-or-treating route and stick with it.
- Remind kids to visit homes familiar to them or you, and don't approach unlit homes.
- Provide kids with small, battery-powered flashlights.
- Stay on sidewalks and avoid crossing yards.
- Cross streets at the corner, use crosswalks (where they exist) and do not cross between parked cars.
- Inspect all Halloween treats before children start feasting.
- Discard any food that isn’t in its original and undamaged wrapper.
- Keep homemade food only if you know who prepared it.
- Drivers, slow down! Watch for children in the street and on medians
- Be ready for children to dart out and cross streets at any point.
- Exit driveways and alleyways carefully.
- Turn on all outside lights. Leave them on all night to deter vandalism.
- Make sure walks and pathways are clear of debris, leaves, garden equipment and lawn decorations.
- If your pumpkin gets smashed on your sidewalk, clean up all the slippery goo.
- Move cars, bikes, planters, sprinklers and other items into a locked garage or inside the house to deter theft or vandalism.
- Keep your pet properly restrained when you open the door for trick-or-treaters for the safety of both your visitors and your pet.
Fending off fire hazards
- Avoid decorating with candles. Use small flashlights.
- Keep crepe paper and other party decorations away from heat sources, including light bulbs.
- Remember that dried flowers and cornstalks are highly flammable.
- Use flame-retardant costumes. Use fire resistant material when making costumes.
- Avoid costumes made of flimsy material and outfits with big, baggy sleeves or billowing skirts. These are more likely to come in contact with an exposed flame, such as a candle, than tighter fitting costumes.
- Keep candles, pumpkins with candles, matches and lighters out of children's reach.
- Keep exits clear. Keep fire extinguishers close if open flames are burning.
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Do you have a question for AARP Montana? Send your question to “Ask AARP Montana” at MTAARP@aarp.org or 30 W 14th St., Helena, MT 59601 or call our toll-free hotline at 866-295-7278. As we receive questions, we will consult with both internal and external experts to provide timely and valuable advice.