Commentary by Tech. Sgt. John Skelton
20th Fighter Wing Safety
SHAW AIR FORCE BASE, S.C. — The end of October brings with it tales of ghouls, princesses, goblins and action heroes lurking the dark hallows of our neighborhoods, dressed in all types of costumes in an effort to have their take of the many treats available.
What is meant to be a festive and enjoyable evening sometimes ends up as a ‘nightmare come true.’ Halloween’s most common injuries have nothing to do with candy; rather, sharp objects, burns and vehicle accidents round out the most common injury producing incidents. Parents can ensure the safety of their children by following a few safety steps.
When selecting a costume, check to ensure that the material is flame resistant. Many burn injuries during Halloween involve children’s costumes coming in close proximity to flames used in decorative displays.
Once on fire, non-flame retardant material can burn quickly, resulting in serious injuries. Parents should also ensure that their children do not come in direct contact with any flames. A ‘fire-breathing’ Jack-O-Lantern may sound and look awesome, but getting up-close to see it in action is not a good idea.
No costume is complete without ‘Accessories!’ It’s hard to be a ‘Ninja’ without a Katana sword…but taking a real sword out for the night is really not a good idea. Many injuries associated with sharp objects result from an individual using a ‘real’ item, such as a sword or spear, as part of their costume.
The best idea is to visit a costume store and purchase replica items that are safe for use as part of a costume ensemble. Real weapons of any kind could result in spending the evening under arrest. In addition, parents should be mindful of decorative displays at the houses they visit.
Many decorative items may not be visible in low light situations, creating a potential for tripping hazards. Stay on sidewalks/driveways when approaching a house; do not walk through a display unless it was designed for you to do so.
The one thing about Halloween that has always been a mystery is why people dress up in elaborate costumes, in hopes of looking their ‘scary’ best, and then go out into the night when their costume cannot be admired by others.
It’s important this year that parents ensure that everyone in their group can be seen by others this Halloween. If you can, go during daylight hours. This way being seen will not be as much of an issue as it is at night. If your plans involve being out after dark, ensuring everyone has a flashlight so they have the ability to see where they are going is an absolute must. Decorative strobe lights and glow-sticks are also ways to increase visibility.
In addition, because most injuries involve individuals being hit by vehicles, all personnel should obey traffic laws when crossing the street. Utilize crosswalks where available; cross the street in groups. Remember that ‘right-of way’ is something that is given; do not step off the curb into the street until all vehicle traffic has stopped.
This Halloween, take a few minutes to ensure you and your children are prepared to have a safe evening. Dress your best, but ensure that you can be seen by all…that’s the idea, right? Happy Halloween!