Halloween weekend may be fun, but spooky dangers lurk

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INDIANAPOLIS — As we enter into Halloween weekend, safety officials want people to be alert to make sure the only scary things happening are coming from the haunted houses.

With trick-or-treat times going up until 9 p.m. over the weekend, trick-or-treaters will be out as it is getting dark. Over the weekend, the sun will set around 6:40, leaving plenty of time that children will be out and about in the dark.

Mike Pruitt with Bargersville fire says it is important that children’s costumes remain visible throughout the evening.

“If we have a costume that’s very difficult to see, we may want to add some glow necklaces to that costume so it’s more visible,” Pruitt said.

A 2019 study from JAMA Pediatrics says 4 to 8-year-old children experienced a 10-fold increase in pedestrian fatality risk on Halloween, with the risks highest around 6 p.m. when it is getting darker.

Most of the childhood pedestrian deaths happened within residential neighborhoods. Pruitt said it is important for drivers to slow down and make sure their headlights are on as they are out and about.

“Hopefully the kids and the adults are using the crosswalks properly and not darting out across the street,” Pruitt said. “They may come out from being in between cars and you not be able to see them, so there’s a lot of dangers that go along with that, so just be visible.”

Another danger that Pruitt said people should be on the lookout for is fire. Data from the U.S. Fire Administration shows an average of 9,200 fires were reported to fire departments in the United States over a 3-day period around Halloween for each year from 2017-2019.

Fire officials recommend using a battery-operated candle or glow stick in jack-o-lanterns and teaching children to stay away from open flames.

“A lot of people enjoy candles, but they’ll put them somewhere and I’ve seen them on front porches even as the kids come up and maybe they have loose clothing and their costume,” Pruitt said. “The last thing we want to do is catch anyone on fire and cause severe injury.”

The National Fire Protection Association offered these tips for Halloween fire safety.

nfpa.org/halloween

Pruitt also says he expects a lot of parties on Saturday. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) urges hosts to be responsible and take action to make sure guests get home safely.

After the party, Pruitt says people should have a ride home ready if they were drinking.

“Whether it’s Uber, a friend, a taxi, Lyft, whatever, the choice, it’s a lot cheaper and could potentially save a life if you make that choice instead of getting behind the wheel after having too much to drink,” Pruitt said.

The NHTSA offered these Halloween safety tips for drivers, pedestrians and party hosts.

Safety Tips for Drivers

  • Be alert for trick-or-treaters on Halloween. Slow down and continue to scan the road in areas where they are likely to be or where sight distances are limited.
  • On Halloween there will likely be more pedestrians on the roads and in places where they are not expected. Slower speeds save lives.
  • Stay alert for pedestrians who may come out from between parked cars or behind shrubbery. Stop, wait for them to pass.
  • Don’t look at your phone when you’re driving. Your attention needs to always be on the road.
  • If you see a drunk driver on the road, contact law enforcement.

Safety Tips for Pedestrians

  • Walk on a sidewalk if one is available and use crosswalks. 
  • Before the Halloween festivities begin, create a “buddy system” to get each other home safely and prevent walking alone.

Tips for Party Hosts

Be a responsible party host and take action to make sure guests get home safely.

  • Serve plenty of food and provide non-alcoholic beverage options. 
  • Collect car keys from guests who are drinking.
  • Prepare to call taxis, rideshares, provide sleeping accommodations, or—if you’re sober—drive guests home yourself. 

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