By Tom Kiurski
With Halloween just around the corner, now’s the time to start planning how to get safety tips out to your community before superheroes start knocking on the door, and witches hop astride their broomsticks for the big evening.
Television news spots, Public Service Announcements (PSAs) for network and local cable television channels, articles in local newspapers (with extra copies of the article made for you to drop off to audiences that may come to mind later), and October speaking engagements are all ways to help get the message out.
Base the safety message on the age or type of group you plan to target. Homeowners need to remove debris and obstacles from their yards, and make sure their house is well lit. They should be advised that only pre-wrapped candy should be handed out to the children.
Drivers need to be extra cautious that night, as many people work late and some go to parties. They should remember to drive slowly in residential neighborhoods, and be watchful for kids darting out into the street or appearing suddenly from between parked cars.
Parents of trick-or-treaters need to make sure their children’s costumes are flame-resistant (but kids should know and practice the “Stop, Drop and Roll” behavior just in case), and have reflective stripes to make them more visible after dark. If the costumes don’t already have the reflective striping, reflective tape can be purchased at the local hardware store and can be affixed to the sleeves and pants legs. Flashlights, glow sticks, and blinking lights all help accessorize costumes and make the kids more visible to motorists at night.
Make sure costumes are not too long, to avoid tripping hazards. Make-up is a better choice than a mask, since masks can obstruct vision. Any costume accessory, such as a knife or a sword, should be made of a flexible material to avoid injury.
A few other items of note:
- Kids should eat a good dinner before heading out for the evening, to avoid the temptation of grabbing candy and eating it before it can be inspected by an adult.
- Kids young enough to need parents with them for trick-or-treating must stay with the adults.
- Kids that are going out in their own groups need to inform their parents of their planned route and keep in touch at several points during the evening. This is where a cell phone comes in handy.
- Instruct kids to never enter a home for any reason.
That concludes a short list of some of the safety tips we have for Halloween. A few more ideas can be found in the August 2005 issue of Fire Engineering magazine.
Tom Kiurski is a lieutenant, a paramedic, and the director of fire safety education for Livonia (MI) Fire & Rescue. His book, Creating a Fire-Safe Community: A Guide for Fire Safety Educators (Fire Engineering, 1999) is a guide for bringing the safety message to all segments of the community efficiently and economically.