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Sergeant Michael B. Webb
Kentucky State Police
Public Affairs Branch
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Kentucky State Police Offers Guidelines For a Safe Halloween

Date of News Release: 10/25/2007

(FRANKFORT, KY) - With Halloween fast approaching, the Kentucky State Police is urging motorists, homeowners, parents and trick-or-treaters throughout the Commonwealth to prepare for a safe celebration.

"Halloween is one of the most exciting seasons for children, but also one of the most dangerous," says Kentucky State Police Commissioner Jack Adams. "Safety is often the last thing on their minds, so parents and motorists need to be especially alert."

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), Halloween consistently ranks as one of the top three days for pedestrian injuries and fatalities in the U.S. and more than half of all traffic fatalities on Halloween are alcohol-related

While primarily a holiday for children, more adults are now engaging in festivities. According to the National Retail Foundation, more than 28 percent of adults plan to hold or attend a Halloween party this year.

"Many of these parties may start as early as this weekend," says Adams, noting that Kentucky has a zero tolerance policy when it comes to driving while impaired. "Violators will be arrested. There are no warnings or second chances."

According to NHTSA, the most dangerous time nationwide for children ages 5 to 14 on Halloween night is between 4 p.m. and 10 p.m. Children in elementary school are at the greatest risk. Children in this age group:

  • Have a field of vision one-third narrower than an adult.
  • Are often unable to determine the direction of sounds.
  • Cannot accurately judge the speed or distance of moving vehicles.
  • Are easily distracted and tend to focus on one thing at a time like a ball or a friend.
  • Are easily hidden by parked cars, bushes, leaf piles, trash bins, etc.

"Drivers need to be extremely cautious during this time period," says Adams. "The season's shortened daylight hours and reduced visibility create a dangerous combination while children are out trick-or treating. Everyone needs to slow down, use extra caution and follow common-sense safety tips."

KSP offers the following Halloween safety tips:

FOR MOTORISTS:

  • Don't drive while impaired by drugs or alcohol.
  • If you plan to drink, arrange for alternate transportation or a designated driver.
  • Stay alert for increased pedestrian and bicycle traffic on Halloween night.
  • Be patient and SLOW DOWN! Give children lots of time to cross the street.
  • Excited kids may forget to "stop, look and listen" before crossing the street.
  • Drive defensively. Don't assume that a pedestrian will move in a predictable manner. Expect the unexpected.
  • Be extra cautious in areas where vehicles are parked along the side of the street. Trick-or-treaters may dart into traffic from between parked cars.
  • Watch for children walking in the street, especially if there are no sidewalks in the neighborhood. Also watch for children walking on medians and curbs.
  • Enter and exit driveways and alleys carefully.

FOR PARENTS and CAREGIVERS:

  • Trick-or-treaters should carry flashlights or "glow sticks."
  • Dress children in costumes that are light-colored and clearly visible to motorists.
  • Costumes should be no longer than ankle-length to prevent tripping, entanglement or contact with flame.
  • Use face paints or make-up rather than masks that could impair vision.
  • Wear light-colored clothing or add reflective tape to costumes and trick-or-treat bags.
  • Children should wear comfortable, well-fitting, sturdy shoes.
  • Children should wear flame-resistant costumes. Avoid paper costumes.
  • Younger children should be accompanied by an adult.
  • Older children should stay in a group.
  • Avoid capes that could pose strangulation risks by getting caught on structures or yard decorations your child may encounter.
  • Make sure props such as swords, scythes, pitchforks, spears, wands or knives are flexible (not rigid) with smooth or rounded tips to prevent eye or other injuries if fallen upon.
  • If driving children to trick-or-treat, make sure they exit vehicle on the curb side and not the traffic side.
  • Instruct your children not to eat any candy until they bring it home and you examine it thoroughly. Inspect commercially wrapped candy for tampering (unusual appearance, discoloration, tiny pinholes or tears in wrappers). Discard anything suspicious. Throw out homemade treats.
  • Do not permit children to bicycle, roller-blade or skateboard while wearing a costume.
  • Secure identification (name, address, phone number) on or within a child's costume.
  • Teach children their home phone number and how to call 9-1-1 if they become lost or have an emergency. (9-1-1 service can be dialed free from any phone).

FOR TRICK-OR-TREATERS:

  • Don't assume the right of way when crossing a street. Motorists may have trouble seeing you. Just because one car stops, doesn't mean they all will.
  • Be very cautious of strangers. A stranger is someone you don't know who behaves in an inappropriate way. Adults asking children for help can be potentially dangerous.
  • Trick-or-treaters should only visit houses that have porch lights turned on.
  • Never enter a stranger's house or vehicle. (Parents should stress "vehicle" because some children might think it is OK to approach a van or bus.)
  • Stay on well-lit streets and always use the sidewalk. If no sidewalk is available, walk at the farthest edge of the roadway facing traffic.
  • Never cut across yards or use alleys. By crossing a lawn, you might be tripped by clotheslines or lawn furniture.
  • Don't run! Always walk when crossing streets or going from house to house.
  • Cross streets only at corners and crosswalks. Never cross the street from between parked cars.
  • Remove mask or any item restricting eyesight before crossing streets.
  • Don't take shortcuts through back alleys or parking lots.
  • Cover one side of the street at a time, no crisscrossing.
  • Look "left, right, left again" for cars before stepping off the curb to cross a street.
  • Don't play near jack-o-lanterns, the candle inside could start a fire.
  • Stay with the adult who is leading the group.
  • Keep away from open flames or burning candles.
  • Try on your costume before Halloween night to make sure it fits properly.
  • Stay away from and don't pet animals you don't know.
  • Don't eat any treats until you get home.
  • Have an adult check all candy before eating it.
  • Stay focused on your surroundings. If you feel threatened, go to the nearest store or restaurant and ask to use the phone. Call parents or the police.

FOR HOMEOWNERS:

  • Turn on your porch light. Provide ample outdoor lighting. Check outdoor lights and replace burned-out bulbs.
  • Eliminate tripping hazards on your porch, yard and walkway (flowerpots, lawn furniture, lawn decorations, bicycles, children's toys, ladders, garden hoses, dog leashes, support wires, low tree limbs).
  • Remove wet leaves from steps and sidewalk.
  • Use battery-powered jack-o-lantern candles or light sticks. If candles are used, place pumpkin away from area where children will be walking or standing to prevent accidental fires.
  • Keep dried leaves and cornstalks away from flames and heat sources.
  • Never drape a fabric ghost or other decoration over a light bulb.
  • Make sure that paper or cloth lawn decorations do not blow into a burning candle.
  • Do not overload electrical outlets or extension cords with lighting or special effects.
  • Avoid lighting sidewalks and driveways with luminaries (small candles inside decorative paper bags). Injuries might result when children are tempted to take a closer look.
  • Pets can be frightened by Halloween activities. Restrain them or bring them indoors to protect them from cars or from accidentally hurting trick-or-treaters.

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