Everyone loves Halloween – especially two groups: Kids and candy manufacturers.
But here’s a horrifying reality: More than any other day of the year, children are more than twice as likely to be hit by or killed by a motor vehicle (car, truck, SUV, or whatever) on Halloween. In 2017, the month of October ranked No. 2 in motor vehicle deaths for the year, with 3,700 occurring. July was No. 1 in the year, reaching 3,830 deaths.
Locationally, Halloween injuries occur in one of two places: 1) At a residence property that trick-or-treaters are visiting , or 2) Streets and roadways. Between face masks, flowing costumes, eye make-up, darkness and leaves on the ground, when it comes to a perfect mix for accidents and injuries, this combination is an ominous “thriller”, to quote Michael Jackson’s macabre hit song. Whether you’re a homeowner passing out candy to visitors, or a parent accompanying your kids out for fun, everyone needs to exercise care and caution to prevent injuries. Otherwise, one or both of two things can happen: 1) Someone gets hurt – a fall down stairs leading to a homeowner’s front porch; a trip & fall on a homeowner’s walkway; a pedestrian-motor vehicle accident. (These are just a few examples, see more below.) Then, 2) Someone gets sued (usually a property owner or a driver.) No one wants this outcome, so here are five important safety points to bear in mind this Halloween:
1. Pedestrian-Motor Vehicle Accidents
Aside from a stormy night or New Year’s Eve, as a Boston car accident lawyer, I can assure you that October 31st can be a disaster waiting to happen on residential streets. The odds of pedestrians being hit and injured by motor vehicles – as well as and drunk driving events – is a high probability. Parents need to make sure that kids stay on the sidewalks and be extremely careful at intersections – especially where there are no stop signs or traffic lights. Children should never be allowed to go trick or treating alone. Both adults and kids should carry flashlights and consider also adding reflective tape to their costumes so they’re more detectable to drivers in the dark.
If you’re an adult going to a Halloween party, you should always either have a designate driver, or make advance plans to sleep overnight at the house party location. Drivers should never, ever drink and drive, but on this night, when young kids are in the streets, anyone who does so is begging for a disaster.
2. Eye Injuries
Halloween costumes such as grim reapers, knights and pirates, usually include dangerous “accessories” in the form of home-made swords and picks, or a one-eye patch. If someone moves the wrong way suddenly, someone else may end up with a permanent eye patch. Kids who have these props often wind up using them as though they were the real deal, and this can lead to serious bodily injuries. Adults: When it comes to kids’ costumes, keep the accessories to foam and soft rubber materials.
3. Burn Injuries
As a Boston burn injury lawyer, I’ve seen a lot of burn injuries result from Halloween events. Why? Ask yourself what item is found at a lot of residential properties on Halloween. If you said a carved Jack-O-Lantern pumpkin with a lit candle inside, you’d be right. Mix this with costumes that have capes, mummy rags, flowing materials and similar, and you’re looking at a major burn hazard. Make sure any costumes are made from flame retardant materials and ditch the lit candle in the pumpkin for an LED version; they’re usually sold at dollar stores.
4. Mouth or Esophagus Puncture Wounds or Poisoning Injuries
It first happened in 1983 with cyanide-laced Tylenol, and unfortunately in 35 years our world has not become much safer; some, but not enough. There are still some pretty disturbed people out there, whose twisted minds could add poison or dangerous object to “treats” they could hand out. (As a kid, I remember hearing rumors of sewing needles and razor blades being found in apples. Scary stuff.)
The first thing to do when your kids get home with their treats: Lay them all out and immediately throw out any partially wrapped, unwrapped or suspicious looking items. Massachusetts police departments are aware of this potential problem, so don’t hesitate to contact them if your kids bring home anything that looks suspicious.
5. Slip & Fall/Trip & Fall Injuries Occurring on Homeowner Property
This is a major risk. Finally, both homeowners and renters alike should take careful steps to protect trick or treaters coming on to your property – walkways, stairs, entrances, whatever. Remove now anything that a young child or adult visitor could slip on – such as leaves (wet or dry), as well as objects that visitors might trip over, such as lawn décor items, un-opened newspaper deliveries, lawn hoses, toys and bikes, etc. Also – very important: If you have a pet (especially a dog), make sure that you isolate and confine the pet to a separate room of the house. Otherwise, the animal could jump on a child or adult with the intent to play, or attack them as they might perceive them to be intruders.
As a Massachusetts accident lawyer, I’ve seen too many of these types of accidents and injuries occur on Halloween, so be careful. It’s one thing to deal with a sugar high in your kids from eating all their candy. You don’t want to have to deal wit the low of someone being hurt or sued.
The National Safety Council also publishes some yearly advice about this. If you need some additional Halloween safety tips, click here.