Usually a treat for children, Halloween is one of the most dangerous nights of the year. AARP Montana offers tips to stay safe with a downloadable tip sheet.
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, children, drivers and homeowners all should use a little extra caution and heed some common-sense safety tips.
AARP Montana has a free downloadable Halloween safety tip sheet for parents, homeowners, schools or anyone else interested in staying safe this Halloween season, click here >>
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.
- Don't let your pets get into the treats! You probably know that chocolate and raisins are toxic to pets, but so is xylitol, an artificial sweetener used in many sugar-free candies and gum.
- Be sure to properly dispose of candy wrappers. If ingested, these can cause life-threatening obstructions to the intestinal tract, which may require surgery.
- Keep a close eye on pets for vomiting, diarrhea and lethargy – all signs they have eaten something dangerous.
- Consider keeping dogs or cats confined in a quiet room on Halloween night. This will shield them from the noise and frenzy of trick-or-treaters and prevent them from bolting out the door.
- Make sure all pets have proper identification, including an up-to-date ID tag and microchip, which will help your chances of reuniting should they go missing.
- If you decide to dress up your pet for Halloween, choose a costume that is loose-fitting, comfortable and doesn't cover the eyes, ears or nose, which could cause anxiety.
- Keep pets away from glow sticks. Cats especially have an affinity for chewing and puncturing these products. While not life-threatening, the liquid in glow sticks can cause pain, irritation and excessive salivation.
Fending Off Fire Hazards
- Avoid decorating with candles. Use small flashlights or battery operated LED flameless candles.
- 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.