Halloween is a festive time in Hawaii. It’s a celebration that allows children to use their imaginations, exercise their creativity and express themselves with their costumes. Many groups have costume contests and parades. The Star Advertiser’s Halloween Fun Guide shows a long list of Halloween activities throughout the Islands. Halloween is also a time for parents to be vigilant about the safety of their children to reduce the risk of an injury on this festive night.
In Hawaii, night falls earlier in late October, meaning that trick-or-treaters are likely to be going door to door in darkness. This poses safety concerns over the significantly reduced visibility of pedestrians. Hawaii has one of the highest rates of pedestrian accident fatalities in the United States. Halloween is a particularly dangerous night for pedestrian accidents involving children.
Most child safety experts say that children under 12 should not be allowed to cross the street without adult supervision. Parents of older trick-or-treaters who go out without supervision should be sure their children travel as a group along with a predetermined route. All costumes should fit properly because loose clothing can cause tripping and other injuries. Masks can block vision, so parents should consider using makeup as part of costumes.
Trick-or-treaters should look left, right and left again for traffic before crossing a street in Honolulu. Use crosswalks when possible. Children should walk across streets and not run. When crossing an intersection with a traffic signal, it’s important to use the pedestrian signal indicator and wait for the walk light.
Trick-or-treaters should pay attention for cars backing out of driveways. The driver may not be aware that you are nearby.
Among eight holidays, Halloween had the fifth highest number of emergency room visits involving children ages 18 and younger, according to the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons. Head injuries account for the largest percentage of Halloween injuries, the group said.
Most pedestrian accidents occur at night when visibility is limited, so it’s important to dress to be seen.
Trick-or-treaters should carry glow sticks or flashlights to increase their visibility while walking. Parents should decorate their children’s Halloween costumes and candy bags with reflective tape to make the trick-or-treaters more visible to drivers on the road.
When purchasing or making costumes for their children, parents should avoid costumes made of dark or black fabric, which makes trick-or-treaters harder to see at night. Make sure the costume isn’t too long so as to cause a tripping hazard.
Be sure to verify that the costume is clearly labeled as fire resistant.
When children are out making rounds, they should keep to familiar, well-lit streets. A parent or responsible adult should accompany small children at all times.
Children should only visit residences with a lit porch light or Jack-o-lantern in front. Older trick-or-treaters should carry a mobile phone to summon help if a problem occurs.
Property owners should make sure the path from the sidewalk or driveway to the front door is free of obstructions and tripping hazards. Repair broken steps and loose porch railings that may present a safety hazard to young visitors.
Halloween can be a particularly stressful night for pets. Dogs and cats may be frightened by strangers coming to the door and the noise they make. It is best for pet owners to keep their dogs and cats indoors and away from the front door and excitement.
Some young children may not recognize warning signs that a dog is agitated and reach out to pet them. Dogs that are anxious or frightened may react by biting or attacking. To prevent a Halloween dog bite injury, pet owners should keep their pets secured inside.
Be sure to keep the candy bowl out of the reach of your pet. Some types of candy that contain chocolate or xylitol, an artificial sweetener found in sugar-free candies, may be toxic to pets if they eat it.
Be sure to keep pets away from lit Jack-o-lanterns and lit candles to prevent a burn injury or fire.
Feed children a light meal or snack before they go out trick-or-treating so they are less tempted to snack on the candy they collect.
Encourage them to wait until they return home and you have had a chance to inspect the contents of their candy bag before eating the candy, the Food and Drug Administration recommends.
Urge children not to eat any homemade goodies made by strangers or anything that isn’t commercially packaged, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Examine commercially wrapped candy for any signs of tampering, cuts or tears in the wrappers. Dispose of any candy in worn or broken wrappers.
Remove any candies that may present a choking hazard for small children.
People who consume alcohol at Halloween parties and then get behind the wheel of a vehicle pose a risk to everyone in Hawaii.
Alcohol consumption and the increase in pedestrians on Halloween night create a dangerous combination. From 2008 to 2012, a fifth of fatal pedestrian accidents on Halloween night involved an intoxicated driver, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
Motorists who are on the road on Halloween should avoid consuming alcohol and drive slowly through residential areas and remain alert for children on roadways, medians and curbs.
If you plan on celebrating Halloween with alcohol, you should designate a sober driver to get you home or call a taxi.
Parents should use a pumpkin carving kit to create a Jack-o-lantern, because the knives in the kits are less sharp than common household knives.
Children should never be given a knife to do the carving. Instead, they can help with the design of the pumpkin, remove the seeds and pulp, and prepare the seeds for roasting.
If you or your child has been injured in a pedestrian accident on Halloween caused by a motorist, a Honolulu accident attorney is ready to help. Contact a Honolulu pedestrian accident lawyer at Leavitt Yamane and Soldner to review your accident and explain your legal options.