Halloween: Be smart, be safe, be seen

pumpkinWith Halloween a couple of days away, AAA Mid-Atlantic and the Mid-Atlantic Foundation for Safety and Education are joining forces to remind celebrants of all ages to Be Smart, Be Safe and Be Seen.

AAA’s Be Smart, Be Safe and Be Seen Halloween Safety campaign will be promoted this week by the Mid-Atlantic Foundation for Safety and Education at twenty-seven schools across the Commonwealth.  The School Safety Patrollers at each school will help promote the campaign by distributing material, completing safety and awareness activities, and presenting on Halloween Safety to younger students.

“According to the National Highway Safety Administration, the number of child pedestrians fatally injured on Halloween is three times greater than the daily average.  The AAA Halloween Safety Campaign is fighting that statistic by promoting traffic safety on Halloween night to both trick-or-treating children and motorists,” stated Haley Glynn, Traffic Safety Community Educator at the Mid-Atlantic Foundation for Safety and Education.  “The campaign hopes to educate children on the dangers of crossing the street while helping motorists become more alert when driving in residential areas.”

Halloween can quickly turn fun and exciting activities into a deadly disaster when proper safety measures are not taken inside and outside of the home.  According to the National Fire Protection Association, decorations are the first thing to ignite in 900 reported home fires each year. Two of every five of these fires were started by a candle.

“Please use candles with care.  Candles should always have at least 12 inches clearance from anything that can burn.  A safer alternative is to use a battery operated candle or light.” Public Information Officer for the Henrico County Fire Department.

Halloween falls on a Friday this year and because most adults will not have to go to work the next day, one third (33.4%) of Americans will either throw or attend a Halloween party this year, that’s according to the National Retail FederationAAA urges both party bound guests and hosts to behave responsibly to ensure the scariest parts of Halloween continue to be the spooky costumes and scary pranks, rather than impaired drivers wreaking havoc on the roadways.

“Pedestrian and traffic safety is important for celebrants of all ages as we expect to see streets filled with eager children, particularly in the evening hours Friday night,” said Martha Mitchell Meade, Manager of Public and Government Affairs for AAA Mid-Atlantic.  “Party goers are urged to be responsible and have either a designated driver or simply stay put.  Visibility will also be vital for all pedestrians. Some masks and costumes can make it particularly difficult for children to see and more importantly be seen.”

AAA, the Mid-Atlantic Foundation for Safety and Education, and Henrico County Division of Fire suggest the following:

Partygoers & Hosts

  • Make plans to get home safely. If intending to consume alcohol, make plans to get home safely by selecting a designated driver or ensuring cab service is available from the party location.
  • Consider an overnight stay. If attending a party at a friend’s home, consider asking to stay overnight. If participating in festivities in a downtown or commercial area, look into hotel accommodations within walking distance. Many hotels offer special Halloween weekend rates and promotions.
  • Have safe transportation options ready. If hosting a party with alcohol, compile a list of phone numbers including local cab companies and organizations offering designated driver services to have readily available should guests need a safe way home.
  • Plan your travel route carefully. Try to avoid cutting through residential areas that will likely have a large number of trick-or-treaters. If providing directions to a party, make sure to not route guests through residential areas unnecessarily.
  • Take care of designated drivers and offer alternatives to alcohol. Plan to have non-alcoholic drink options available for designated drivers and others. Serve plenty of food so partygoers do not drink on empty stomachs.

 

Fire Safety

  • Dried flowers, cornstalks and crepe paper are highly flammable. Keep these and other decorations well away from all open flames and heat sources, including light bulbs, and heaters.
  • Avoid live flames in pumpkins. It is safest to use a flashlight or battery-operated candle in a jack-o-lantern. If you use a real candle, use extreme caution. If lighting candles inside jack-o-lanterns, use long, fireplace style matches or a utility lighter. Be sure to place lit pumpkins well away from anything that can burn and far enough out of way of trick-or-treaters, doorsteps.  Place pumpkins with candles well away from the siding of the house.
  • Keep Children Safe. Make sure children are watched at all times when candles are lit on walkways or in yards.
  • Maintain Clear Escape Route. Remember to keep exits clear of decorations, so nothing blocks escape routes.
  • Educate Children of fire safety. Tell children to stay away from open flames. Be sure they know how to stop, drop and roll if their clothing catches fire. Have them practice, stopping immediately, dropping to the ground, covering their face with hands, and rolling over and over to put the flames out.

 

Trick-or-Treaters & Parents

  • Select highly visible costumes. Look for light, bright and reflective costumes that make trick-or-treaters easy to see. Add reflective tape to costumes and treat buckets and bags to increase visibility. Glow sticks also offer great visibility.
  • Ensure costumes fit well. Have trick-or-treaters try on, walk and play in costumes and shoes in advance to check fit. Check that wigs or other accessories do not obstruct the child’s view.
  • Ensure unobstructed view. Make sure masks have eye holes that are large enough for the child to see out.
  • Avoid tripping/fire hazards. When choosing a costume, stay away from billowing or long trailing fabric.
  • Review safety precautions with children. Include traffic safety rules in the review such as stay on the sidewalk, cross the street at crosswalks, avoid walking in front of, behind or between parked cars and stop at driveways to make sure no vehicles are coming in and out.
  • Plan trick-or-treating route and supervision in advance. Avoid areas with heavy vehicle traffic and look for well-lit streets with sidewalks. Make arrangements for an adult or a responsible teen to accompany younger trick-or-treaters.
  • Get a flashlight with fresh batteries. A flashlight can help trick-or-treaters see and be seen, but it should never be directed at someone’s eyes including those of passing motorists.

 

Motorists

  • Slow-down in residential neighborhoods and obey all traffic signs and signals. Drive at least five mph below the posted speed limit to give yourself extra time to react to children who may dart into the street.
  • Watch for children walking on roadways, medians and curbs. In dark costumes, they’ll be harder to see at night.
  • Look for children crossing the street. They may not be paying attention to traffic and cross the street mid-block or between parked cars.
  • Carefully enter and exit driveways and alleys.
  • Turn on your headlights to make yourself more visible – even in the daylight.
  • Broaden your scanning by looking for children left and right into yards and front porches.

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