Halloween, steeped in its Celtic origins, has been embraced as a fun holiday by most Canadians, including children, teenagers, and adults. For those who celebrate Halloween, this is a wonderful time of the year. For an experienced plaintiff’s personal injury lawyer, however, Halloween is a very scary night.
Young children, decked out in colourful costumes idealizing what they would like to be, or dressed as their favorite pop culture character, will run from house to house to gather treats from strangers, frequently in unknown neighbourhoods and in darkness. Teenagers will gather for raucous Halloween parties with their friends, frequently indulging in alcohol or drugs. Even adults enjoy Halloween parties, with all of their friends in costume, partying into the night.
I worry about many things on Halloween night, including:
- young children receiving tainted treats – or is this just an urban myth?
- young children tripping over extension cords and other hazards set up with elaborate Halloween displays on the front lawns of the homes that they run to;
- children running into traffic or another safety hazard because they cannot see properly behind their elaborate masks, or because they have not been schooled in traffic safety;
- teenagers being injured at a Halloween party by getting into a fight, or perhaps over-indulging in alcohol or drugs, and driving home from the party;
- adults also becoming intoxicated on alcohol or drugs, and driving their motor vehicle on streets packed with young Halloweeners; and
- motorists who are going about their day as usual, but who are distracted by the young Halloweeners darting about the streets, and they end up in a motor vehicle accident.
But my scariest thought is the fear of a pedestrian accident in which a young Halloweener is struck by a motor vehicle and injured.
To channel my Halloween fears into positive energy, I offer the following tips for the safety of young Halloweeners:
Halloween Safety for Children
- Make sure that your children’s Halloween costumes fit properly, and are not tripping hazards;
- Don’t hide your children’s faces behind elaborate masks which have visibility problems – use face paint instead;
- Make sure that your children are highly visible by selecting costumes with bright colours or putting reflective tape on their costumes, and send them out with flashlights, glow sticks or reflecting decorations;
- If you’re walking with a very young child in a stroller, make sure that the stroller has reflective tape on it as well as it will often be the first thing out in the traffic;
- For very young children, put your child’s name, address and phone number in your child’s clothing in case they become separated from you;
- Chaperone your young children as they trick-or-treat until they are of sufficient age to take care of themselves – some authorities suggest that age 9 is a minimum, and others 12;
- If you allow your older children to trick-or-treat unsupervised, talk to them about the risks of trick-or-treating before they go out, make sure they have a cell phone and give them a curfew;
- Make sure that your children stay on the sidewalks and do not dart between parked cars or jaywalk across the street;
- Be sure that your children stop at the curb, look both ways and listen for traffic before crossing the street;
- If there is no sidewalk, make sure that your children walk beside the road, facing traffic so that drivers can see them;
- Tell your children to only go to homes which have a light on;
- Tell your children to never go inside a house while trick-or-treating, even though they may be invited in; and
- Examine your children’s treats when they get home, and make sure they are safe, discarding any homemade food items and candies that could cause choking.
Halloween Safety for Drivers
- Don’t drink or take drugs and drive!
- Be sure to obey all of the rules of the road, including coming to a complete stop at all traffic signals and stop signs, and observing posted speed limits;
- In neighbourhoods with a lot of Halloweeners on the street, drive extra slow and keep a sharp lookout as children may dart out unexpectedly or jaywalk without warning; and
- Be extra careful to avoid distractions while driving with streets packed with Halloweeners – don’t use your cell phone while driving, engage in animated conversation with passengers, or take your eyes off the road to check your GPS directions, for example.
I sincerely hope that your Halloween celebration is safe as well as fun for you and your family. If the worst should happen and you or your child is injured, please CONTACT the friendly, helpful and knowledgeable lawyers at CAM LLP for a free consultation.