The Woodward News

October 30, 2012

Focus on safety for Halloween

Gary Engel
Woodward News

Woodward, Okla. — Halloween can be a scary time – especially when it comes to the potential for accidents.

So in order for a safe, fun evening, officials are urging extra caution by both drivers and pedestrians.

Safety, in fact, is important in all aspects of Halloween night.



MOTORISTS’ RESPONSIBILITY

Drivers need to take it slow in residential neighborhoods, especially anytime after school hours when it's still daytime on Halloween.

"Quit talking on the cell phone or texting," Chuch Mai of AAA Oklahoma said. "You need to be paying complete attention to your surroundings, and watching for kids who may change the way they're going suddenly."

Use caution when entering or leaving a driveway, and look both ways before taking off, he said.

Melissa Hobbs, public information officer with the Woodward Fire Department, said motorists need to be especially careful as school is letting out, around 3:30 p.m., as many kids have already started their Halloween activities.

"Drivers need to be aware that many kids will be taking advantage of the opportunity because it's still daytime," she said.

"Really, it's just best for all drivers, to stay out of residential neighborhoods on Halloween to avoid the risk of a tragedy, Mai said.  "Halloween should be a fun night. But along with the candy, visiting with friends and comparing costumes, many things are on kids' minds. And being safe isn't usually one of them."

Hobbs said she can't recall a child ever being struck by a vehicle while trick-or-treating in Woodward.

"And I definitely hope it stays that way," she said.



KIDS’ SAFETY MEASURES

Hobbs encourages a parent or someone older than 18 to accompany children while trick or treating.

Experts say it is better to paint faces instead of wearing a mask that may restrict vision or hearing. Also, carry a flashlight, to help being seen, and wear a light-colored costume with reflective tape attached to it and candy bags to increase visibility.  Be sure costumes aren't so long they pose a tripping hazard. Have the kids carry flexible or cardboard knives, swords or other props.

Avoid homes or apartments with no porchlights on, Hobbs said.

Mai said children should not cross streets in the middle of the block or dart between parked cars, both of which can startle drivers and cause a collision - with the child or with other vehicles.

Children should always take all the candy home at the end of the evening to let parents inspect it.

"Don't eat any before it's checked," said Hobbs.

Some other helpful ideas include:

• Visit with children before they go trick or treating

• Set a time for children to return home

• Have them trick to treat after dark in groups.



STEPS YOU CAN TAKE

For those welcoming trick or treaters, make sure tools, ladders, bicycles and tricycles and toys are removed from the lawn, steps and porch to avoid stumbles and falls, said Terri Salisbury with the Woodward County Health Department.

You should also check outdoor lights and replace any burned out bulbs and sweep wet leaves from sidewalks and steps.