It’s Halloween week and soon our streets and sidewalks will be filled with costumed youngsters on a quest for treats. I spent parts of the last weekend crafting a spooky (not really) ghost circle for the front yard and helping my 8 yr. old daughter transform our porch into a den of spider webs, pumpkins, hay bales and one screeching bat. There are faux-bloody footsteps and a screaming doormat too. The love we have for our kids will make us do lots of things for their pleasure, including allowing them to dress in sometimes ill fitting costumes and to knock on strange doors for candy handouts. Accidents involving pedestrians are four times more likely on Halloween than a typical night. The convergence of darkness, increased pedestrian traffic, vehicles driving through unfamiliar neighborhoods without street lights or crosswalks and visibility hindering masks and hoods create a bit of a perfect storm for unsafe encounters between kids and cars. The Consumer Product Safety Commission has issued a Halloween Safety Alert including some common sense guidelines to follow such as:
Treats: Warn children not to eat any treats before an adult has carefully examined them for evidence of tampering.
Flame Resistant Costumes: When purchasing a costume, masks, beards, and wigs, look for the label Flame Resistant. Although this label does not mean these items won’t catch fire, it does indicate the items will resist burning and should extinguish quickly once removed from the ignition source. To minimize the risk of contact with candles or other sources of ignition, avoid costumes made with flimsy materials and outfits with big, baggy sleeves or billowing skirts.
Costume Designs: Purchase or make costumes that are light and bright enough to be clearly visible to motorists.
- For greater visibility during dusk and darkness, decorate or trim costumes with reflective tape that will glow in the beam of a car’s headlights. Bags or sacks should also be light colored or decorated with reflective tape. Reflective tape is usually available in hardware, bicycle, and sporting goods stores.
- To easily see and be seen, children should also carry flashlights.
- Costumes should be short enough to prevent children from tripping and falling.
- Children should wear well-fitting, sturdy shoes . Mother’ s high heels are not a good idea for safe walking.
- Hats and scarfs should be tied securely to prevent them from slipping over children’s eyes.
- Apply a natural mask of cosmetics rather than have a child wear a loose-fitting mask that might restrict breathing or obscure vision. If a mask is used, however, make sure it fits securely and has eyeholes large enough to allow full vision.
- Swords, knives, and similar costume accessories should be of soft and flexible material.
Pedestrian Safety: Young children should always be accompanied by an adult or an older, responsible child. All children should WALK, not run from house to house and use the sidewalk if available, rather than walk in the street. Children should be cautioned against running out from between parked cars, or across lawns and yards where ornaments, furniture, or clotheslines present dangers.
Choosing Safe Houses: 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.
- 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 landings and doorsteps where costumes could brush against the flame. Indoor jack-o’-lanterns should be kept away from curtains, decorations, and other furnishings that could be ignited.
Follow these guidelines and have a great Halloween with more treats than tricks!
The Legal Examiner and our Affiliate Network strive to be the place you look to for news, context, and more, wherever your life intersects with the law.