Don’t Trick Kids into Entering a Dangerous Yard

October 29, 2008

Trick-or-treaters will be taking it to the streets in their finest Halloween garb this coming Hollow’s Eve. Kids should be prepared with plans and safety tips for their night of goody-collecting, but it is also important for those manning the house to do some safety checks of their own.

“There are a lot of easy ways to make sure your house is safe for the night’s special visitors,” said Anne Brayer, M.D., co-director of Injury Free Coalition for Kids at Golisano Children’s Hospital and associate professor in the Emergency Department at the University of Rochester Medical Center.

Fire Safety with Candles

Halloween is one of the top five days for home candle fires, along with four other days that come in the following two months: Christmas, Christmas Eve, New Year’s Day, and New Year’s Eve, according to research from the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA). NFPA also reports that December is the peak time home candle fires, so Brayer recommends starting to teach kids candle fire safety around Halloween. “Having working smoke alarms is one of the best ways to protect families against fires in the home. This is a great time to buy fresh batteries for your home smoke alarms,” said Brayer.

A battery-powered jack o’lantern is a preferable alternative to a real flame. However, if families do decide to use candles to light up decorative pumpkins, they should be kept away from decorations, drapes, and flammable materials or areas where children and pets will be standing or walking. “More than half of all candle fires started when something that could burn, such as furniture, mattresses or bedding, curtains, or decorations, was too close to the candle,” according to NFPA.

Clear the Yard and Protect Pets

Make sure trick-or-treaters are safe by cleaning up hoses, toys, bikes, lawn decorations, or anything else they might trip over when walking to your house. Clear out wet leaves and any snow or ice that might be on the driveway or sidewalk near your house.

Walkways and the door should be well-lit, so lights should be on and burned out bulbs need to be replaced for the best visibility for kids. “If you are going to welcome trick-or-treaters onto your property, it should be checked for safety ahead of time,” advised Brayer. Drivers should also be especially careful on Halloween, especially when entering or exiting a driveway, since trick-or-treaters may be nearby.

Even the friendliest pets can act out of the ordinary on Halloween. Unknown visitors and unfamiliar sights and sounds on Halloween can frighten pets, so it is best to keep them inside and away from doors when trick-or-treaters approach homes. All dogs and cats should be wearing identification tags and collars before the night begins.

Halloween is one of the most exciting nights of the year for many kids. Ensure that the night is enjoyable for everyone by reviewing safety rules with children and preparing homes to receive the evening’s spooky visitors.

The Injury Free Coalition for Kids of Rochester is a child injury prevention program centered at the Golisano Children’s Hospital at Strong, and funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. The program’s main goal is to reduce the incidence and severity of childhood injury in the greater Rochester metropolitan area.

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