Halloween Safety Tips from our HPS Director of Security

Halloween Safety Tips from our Director of Security

Halloween is one of the most exciting nights of the year for children. At the same time, Halloween presents a level of potential risk exposure to children unlike any other night of the year.  For example, according to statistics, children are four times more likely to be hit by a car on Halloween than on any other night of the year. This year, Halloween will fall on a Thursday and millions of people will be returning home from work when many trick-or-treaters will be outdoors happily going door-to-door in search of goodies. 
As children go out to trick-or-treat, the potential for unintentional injury goes up.  Halloween can indeed be scary, with increases in pedestrian injuries, burns, and falls among children.  The fun of trick-or-treating and the excitement of Halloween may be a distraction for children.  Careless street crossing coupled with drivers' more limited vision at night can make for a deadly mix.  Many of the risks children face on Halloween can be avoided if parents discuss important safety precautions with their children.
Here are a few tips for Halloween safety that you are probably aware of, but bear repeating to refresh our memories.
 Tips for Parents and Guardians: 
  • Make sure your children dress safely.
  • Check that the costumes, including masks, beards, and wigs, are flame-retardant so the children aren't in danger near burning jack-o'-lanterns and other fire hazards.
  • Keep costumes short to prevent trips, falls, and other bumps in the night.
  • Avoid costumes made of flimsy material and outfits with big, baggy sleeves or billowing skirts that might come into contact with an exposed flame, such as a candle.
  • Review with your children the principle of "Stop – Drop – Roll", should their clothes catch on fire.
  • Use make-up instead of a mask, which can be hot, uncomfortable, and, more importantly, obstruct a child's vision – a dangerous thing when children are crossing streets and going up and down steps.  If a mask is worn, be sure it fits securely.  Cut the eyeholes large enough for full vision.
  • Make sure children wear light colors or put reflective tape on their costumes and bags / sacks.  Reflective tape is usually available in hardware, bicycle, and sporting goods stores.
  • Secure hats so they will not slip over children's eyes.
  • Dress children in shoes that fit.  Adult-sized shoes are not safe for trick-or-treaters.  The larger size makes it easier for them to trip and fall.
  • Allow children to carry only flexible or other safe props.  Anything they carry could injure them if they fall.
  • Trick-or-treaters should always be in groups so they aren't tempting targets for would be perpetrators.
  • Make sure older children trick-or-treat with friends.  Map out a safe route together so you know where they'll be.  Tell them to stop only at familiar homes where the outside lights are on.
  • Try to get your children to trick-or-treat while it's light out.  If it's dark, make sure someone has a flashlight with fresh batteries and pick well-lighted streets.
  • Make sure children know not to enter strange houses or strangers' cars.
  • Parents, older siblings, or adult chaperones should always accompany small children while they are trick-or-treating and should pay attention to suspicious individuals who may intend to do children harm.
  • Teach children to walk, not run, while trick-or-treating.  They should never dart out into the street.
  • Remind children to stop at all street corners before crossing.  Tell them to cross streets only at intersections and crosswalks. Teach them to look left, right, and then left again before crossing the street and to continue looking both ways as they cross.
  • Never allow children under the age of twelve to go trick-or-treating without adult supervision.
  • Teach children not to cut across yards.  Lawn ornaments and clotheslines are hidden hazards in the dark.  Tell your children to stay on the sidewalk.
  • Make sure older children have access to a phone in case they have a problem away from home.
  • Instruct children never to enter a home or an apartment building unless accompanied by an adult family member or trusted guardian.
  • Set a time for children to return home.
  • Keep candles, pumpkins with candles, matches, and lighters out of children's reach.
  • Children need to know not to eat their treats until they get home.  To avoid this, feed them a meal or a snack before setting out to trick-or-treat.
  • Check out all treats at home in a well-lighted place.  Inspect fruit and homemade treats for anything suspicious.  Allow your children to keep only unopened candies and other treats in their original wrappers.
  • Small, hard pieces of candy are a choking hazard for young children.
  • Explain to children the difference between tricks and vandalism.  If they vandalize a home, such as by throwing eggs at it, make them clean up the mess they've made and apologize to the homeowner affected by the vandalism.
  • Explain to children that animal cruelty is not acceptable, regardless of any peer pressure.  Make sure that they know that harming animals is not only morally wrong, but punishable by law.
Tips for Children and Teens:
  • Use make-up instead of a mask so that you can see clearly.
  • Wear light-colored clothing or costumes.  Only properly fitting costumes and shoes should be worn.  You should be able to see, hear, walk, and talk correctly.
  • Make a map of your trick-or-treat route for you and your parents.
  • Carry a flashlight or light stick.  Check the batteries in your flashlight prior to leaving home.
  • Stay in your own neighborhood and only stop at well-lighted homes of people you know.  Don't go inside a stranger's house.
  • Be respectful of other people and their property.
  • Have a parent check your treats before you eat them.
  • Start early, end early.
  • Use sidewalks or walk facing traffic.
  • Be cautious at traffic intersections and / or crossing roads.  Stop, look, and listen at corners.
  • Walk; don't run.
  • Don't go between parked cars or crisscross back and forth across streets or into traffic.
  • Use some type of reflectors on your costume and/or bag to make you visible to oncoming vehicular traffic.
  • Don't carry sharp instruments or a lighted torch or candle.
Tips for Motorists:
  • Enter and exit driveways and alleyways slowly and carefully.
  • Have children exit and enter the car on the curbside, away from traffic.
  • Adult partygoers should have a designated driver.
  • Slow down in residential neighborhoods.
  • Obey all traffic signs and signals.
  • Watch for children walking in the street or on medians and curbs
Tips for Homeowners and Other Residents:
  • Remove wet leaves from steps.
  • Turn on all exterior lights to illuminate walkways, stairs, and porches.
  • Ensure that extension power cords used to illuminate exterior decorations do not extend over any pedestrian walkway.
  • Remove personal vehicles from the street.  Park off-street in the driveway or garage where possible.
  • Keep your pets indoors.
  • When they have to go out, you should accompany them so they don't become victims of animal cruelty.
  • Remove breakable items or obstacles such as tools, ladders, and children's toys from your steps, lawn, and porch.
  • Keep jack-o'-lanterns lit with candles away from landings and doorsteps where costumes might brush against the flame.
Please share these safety reminders with your employees, tenants, and friends, as well as your family. we wish you and yours an enjoyable and safe Halloween.  
Submitted by,
Joseph Sikora,  Director of Security,  Hartford Public Schools  (Courtesy of Securitas Security Services USA, Inc.)

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