Heed these helpful hints for hazard-free Halloween

The fun and excitement surrounding Halloween can suddenly turn to sorrow and misfortune through one careless act.

The incidence of fire, accident, and injury often increases during holidays and festive events. Each year, accidents happen on Halloween that could have been prevented had simple safety rules been followed. Among the high-risk activities on Halloween, trick-or-treating is of greatest concern to Fire/EMS Department personnel. Often, there are safe alternatives to trick-or-treating that can be fun and also risk-free. Local churches and schools may plan Halloween parties, or families may get together and conduct games and activities instead of allowing young children to engage in trick-or-treating in dangerous neighborhoods or along busy streets.

For those who plan to venture out trick-or-treating, the Hood River Fire/Emergency Medical Services (EMS) Department offered the following safety tips so that all might enjoy a happy and safe Halloween:

* Costumes should be made of flame resistant light-colored fabric or have reflective qualities. They should be short enough so as not to interfere with walking or become entangled in bicycle chains. Use facial makeup rather than masks so children can see easily.

* Children should carry flashlights and not use candles or torches. Before leaving the home, children should discuss the proposed route, time of return, and companions. An adult should always accompany younger children. It is advisable to visit the homes of persons you know or local familiar neighborhoods, stopping at well-lit houses only. As a general rule, children should avoid entering homes or apartments and always travel with a companion.

* Children should avoid busy streets, always use sidewalks, and follow all traffic rules and regulations. Motorists should avoid all unnecessary travel on Halloween evening, and when driving they should drive slowly and be alert to small children crossing streets.

* Halloween treats should be saved until children return home where adults can examine all items closely. Treats that are unwrapped, or show signs of having been opened, should not be eaten. Fruit should be sliced into small pieces and checked for foreign objects.

* Persons receiving trick-or-treaters should keep a light on and pick up obstacles that could cause a child to trip and become injured. Jack-o-lanterns should be kept clear of doorsteps and landings. Consider the possibility of using flashlights instead of candles to light Jack-o-lanterns.

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