Celebrate Halloween Safely This Year
Halloween is the time of year that brings out the kid in just about all of us. Children across Canada, and many millions more throughout the world, wait eagerly for the night of Oct. 31 for the chance to show off their costumes and trick-or-treat. The tradition originated with the ancient Celtic festival of Samhain thousands of years ago, when people would wear costumes and light bonfires to ward off ghosts, marking the end of summer and the approach of cold winter months.
Halloween is a big business. Last year Canadians were expected to spend $1.64 billion on costumes, candy, pumpkins, decorations and parties. Meanwhile, it was estimated that Americans would shell out $10.14 billion. If the money spent on Halloween seems out of this world, consider this:
According to a CBC report, the Canadian Space Agency’s 2020-21 budget was pegged at about $325 million. Not nearly as much as the $550 million Canadians spent on candy and snacks in October 2018, states Statistics Canada. And that doesn’t include costumes, decorations and parties.
Potentially Dangerous Time for Children.
However, what is sometimes lost in the fun and frivolity is the fact that Halloween can also be a dangerous time for children and adults alike.
In fact, young children are more likely to be struck and killed by a car on Halloween than in any other night of the year, according to one study.
The most dangerous time for pedestrians on Oct. 31 is between 5 p.m. and 8 p.m., researchers have found. According to the study, the risk of death is 10 times higher for children between four and eight years of age.
“The sun is setting earlier. Often it’s rainy and there are people going to parties and perhaps drunk drivers,” lead researcher John Staples, a scientist at the University of British Columbia, told the Toronto Star. “Tons of kids out there trick-or-treat in dark clothing or wearing masks that would obstruct their vision.”
While pedestrian fatalities have dropped across North America in recent decades, traffic collisions still result in the deaths of more than 4,500 pedestrians in the U.S. annually, said University of Toronto professor and study co-author Dr. Donald Redelmeier. He added, “almost all these deaths can be avoided by a small change in behaviour.”
It can be difficult to tamp down a child’s excitement at Halloween. They are wearing a costume of a favourite character and they are often accompanying friends as they scour the neighbourhood for candy. In all the excitement, safety may be the last thing on their minds.
Drivers Must Be Vigilant.
According to the Traffic Injury Research Foundation pedestrian road fatalities “are consistent throughout the year, but some characteristics are particularly concerning at Halloween.”
- Six in 10 pedestrians killed in traffic crashes were trying to cross the road.
- Six in 10 pedestrians were killed at night or in dim light conditions.
- Six per per cent of fatally injured pedestrians were under age 16; of these, 20 per cent ran out into the street.
Even the most careful driver must pay extra attention on Halloween. Speeding is a major factor in traffic deaths and injuries since it reduces the amount of time a motorist has to react. Slow down and give yourself extra time to get to your destination.
Motorists should assume a child is nearby and could dart into the street without looking. On Halloween night, not driving at all might make more sense. If you do need to get into your car you should steer clear of subdivisions whenever possible.
Drivers should watch for parked cars that can block the view of children walking out from behind them. Be vigilant when approaching crosswalks, stop lights, stop or yield signs and be patient.
Research shows that distracted driving is the leading cause of collisions. Last year there were 105 deaths in Ontario connected to distracted driving cases. During an especially busy time such as Halloween, put away your phone, turn the music down and keep your concentration on the road.
Children are Not the Only Ones at Risk.
It is not only children who face potential danger on our roadways at Halloween. October 31 and the proceeding weekend is the chance for people of all ages to celebrate. Many events or house parties for adults serve alcohol.
It goes without saying that you should never get behind the wheel of an automobile if your ability to drive has been impaired by drugs or alcohol. Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) Canada recommends calling a rideshare or a cab, arranging a designated driver or taking public transit. You should never ride with someone who is impaired and endeavour to discourage them from driving. If you suspect someone is driving impaired, call 911.
“It’s paramount that we continue to remind Canadians of the dangers of driving impaired,” Ryan Michel, president and CEO of Allstate Insurance Company of Canada tells MADD. “As you plan your costume and your Halloween festivities, take a few minutes to plan your safe trip home. It’s important that you protect yourselves and those around you; it isn’t worth the risk to drive impaired.”
Keep Safety in Mind.
Of course, accidents can happen away from roadways. Homeowners should ensure their homes are free of tripping hazards.
Keep dogs inside since the noise and activity may upset them. Trick-or-treaters should also avoid houses where there is an unleashed dog. The Canadian Red Cross has some safety tips to help keep children safe:
- Costumes should be light-coloured and flame-resistant with reflective strips so children are more easily seen at night. They should also be short enough to avoid tripping.
- Children should avoid open fires and candles since costumes can be extremely flammable.
- Use face paint rather than masks or things that can cover children’s eyes.
- Stay on the sidewalk, moving from one side of the street first and then the other to avoid crisscrossing the road.
- Cross the street only at intersections or crosswalks, looking both ways before crossing to check for vehicles.
- Don’t run from behind parked cars.
- Have a flashlight to see better and to be better seen.
- Travel in groups when possible.
- Young children should be accompanied by an adult.
- Children should only accept treats at the door and should not enter the homes of strangers or get into a stranger’s car.
- Remind children not to eat their treats until they are examined by an adult at home.
- Candy should not be eaten if the package is already open.
- If older children go out unaccompanied, set agreed-to boundaries and explain the importance of staying within them and arriving home at the agreed-to time.
Accidents Happen Every Day.
Halloween is one of the most enjoyable times of the year but accidents can occur even when precautions are taken. If you or your family have been injured due to someone else’s negligence, no matter how minor, you may be entitled to damages.
If you have questions, call the personal injury lawyers' team at Gluckstein Lawyers. Our experienced and knowledgeable personal injury lawyers can provide the answers you need.
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