Nashville Attorney Phillip Miller Urges Adults To Think Halloween Child Safety
HALLOWEEN CHILD SAFETY IS UP TO THE ADULTS
If, for some reason you haven’t noticed, the seasons are beginning to change and it’s time for one of my favorite holidays, Halloween. As the holiday approaches, (Tomorrow) I’d like to take this opportunity to remind parents that it’s never too late to start thinking and talking to your children about Halloween safety. I’d also like to reach out to drivers who will be out on the highways and byways during this holiday.
Drunk and inattentive drivers are the biggest threat to the children’s safety. According to the Center For Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) the Halloween period this year runs from October 31 – November 2 and the most dangerous time includes the period 4 P.M. to 10 P.M.
The entire purpose of Halloween is to have fun and get treats. For many parents helping our children chose the perfect costume is a family ritual, but with all the frivolity. We should never forget that roughly four times as many children aged 5-14 are killed while walking on Halloween evening compared with other evenings of the year. Trips and falls are a leading cause of injuries among children on Halloween. See the suggestions below for costumes and route.
Children are more than twice as likely to be hit by a car and killed on Halloween than on any other day of the year. That’s a 50% increase. These deaths and injuries can be prevented if parents prepare throughly and exercise close supervision of their school-aged children during all trick or treat activities.
I’d like to address several categories of adults who need to especially vigilant; Parents must be ever on the alert when preparing their child’s costume and teaching safety practices for the big night; Homeowners who take part in the festivities should take special care to keep their property well light and safe from dangers that can injure a child; and drivers who are on the roads during the peak hours of the trick or treat ritual.
Before you do anything related to Halloween, if you haven’t done so in the past, go online and identify any sex offenders and pedophiles living at or near your home. Make a list of addresses and be sure to avoid these houses. Share the list with friends and neighbors.
The Jack O Lantern
The initial activities leading to the build-up to Halloween begins when Mommy and Daddy bring home a pumpkin and after dinner the family gathers around the kitchen table to create the first Jack O Lantern. This task is always involves a sharp knife or other cutting tool. Beware!Small children should never carve pumpkins. This may seem obvious to some but every year children are seriously injured trying to carve with sharp tools. To make the effort a family collaboration, use non-toxic markers and allow your children to draw a face. Then parents can do the cutting.
Upon completion of the carving, parents face another dangerous task of lighting a candle on the inside of the carved pumpkin. Children should never be allowed to light and attempt to place the lite candle into the carved pumpkin. Use the event as a tool to teach your kids about fire safety.
When your child decides on the theme of his/her costume it is the parent’s responsibility to purchase or make it and this decision should also include safe costumes that fit well with masks and/or face paints that allow the child unobstructed vision and safe breathing. If at all possible the costume should be made of flame retardant material.
The costume should be the right size to prevent trips and falls. If possible use costumes that have light color, and every costume and goody bag should be decorated with reflective strips. Many injuries are caused by masks that obstruct a child’s vision and it is recommended that instead of masks you use non-toxic face paint and makeup whenever possible. Swords, knives, and similar costume accessories should always be short, soft, and flexible.
Have kids use glow sticks or flashlights to help them see and be seen by drivers. If you choose glow sticks make it clear to your children that the internal contents of the stick is toxic and can seriously injure. Make sure they don’t chew on the stick and that if, for some reason it breaks, to leave it on the sidewalk and don’t touch it.
The Big Night
Children under the age of 12 should not be out at night without adult supervision. Prior to going out for the actual ritual take some quite time to talk to your children about the dangers that they are going to be facing and your plan to secure as many treats as possible and return home safe and happy. Tell them the importance of carrying a flashlight, and crossing streets only with parents and only at established crosswalks.
It might save their life if, after dinner sometime shortly before the event, you take them on a walking tour of the area you intend to do your trick or treating in. This gives them, and you the opportunity to scout out dangerous situations that can be avoided. As you walk, look for and point out to your children driveways that might be blocked by bushes or trees and remind the kids to be alert for cars backing out of driveways.
Remind them to look left, right and left again when crossing and keep looking as they cross. Hopefully, by the age of four you have already taught your children that they should walk, never run, across the street, and they should always walk on sidewalks or paths. Suggest strongly that they walk between houses and remind them that they should never enter a home without their parent’s permission.
In my neighborhood the neighbors coordinated our effort to insure child safety by making sure that our cars, whether parked on the street, or in the driveway, have their emergency flashers on to remind drivers coming through the neighborhood to be cautious.
Consider indoor community Halloween programs for younger kids. Take a look at your local Parent’s magazines and church notices for off-street Halloween celebrations. These work fine for younger children but as they get older the door-to-door tradition has a strong pull on them.
Carefully Check The Loot
Examine all treats for choking hazards and tampering before allowing your kids to eat them. Limit the amount of treats they get to eat. Eat only factory-wrapped treats. Avoid eating homemade treats made by strangers. Make it clear to your kids that they should never enter any home along the route.
Drivers should ALWAYS exercise due care as they travel the highways and byways of Tennessee on Halloween night. Help protect trick-or-treaters by following some driving safety tips on Halloween, or on any other night your community hosts Halloween activities.
- Be especially careful between 4 and 8 p.m., when most severe vehicle/young pedestrian collisions happen. Drive slowly, and don’t pass stopped vehicles. The driver might be dropping off children.
- Park your cell phone. Avoid distractions by waiting until you’ve stopped to call, text, or surf. For more mobile phone safety tips check out my website at www.philliphmiller.com.
- Watch for children darting into the street. Kids can cross the street anywhere, and most young pedestrian deaths happen at spots other than intersections.
- Yield to young pedestrians. Children might not stop, either because they don’t see your vehicle approaching or don’t know how to safely cross the street.
- Communicate with other drivers. Always use your turn signals. And if you have to pull over to drop off or pick up your kids, turn on your hazard lights.
By taking these few, simple precautions you can assure that your children’s Halloween memories will be good ones. Pass this on to others so that together, we just might save a child’s life. Oh, and remember, “Trick or Treat”.
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