Halloween should be about fun, treats, and, for those who seek it, a bit of fright. However, it is important that the fright be the right kind: manufactured fear intended to produce a scare while everyone remains completely safe. Paying attention to Halloween safety can make the difference between a night that ends safe in bed (though perhaps with a bit of a bellyache from too many sweets) and one that ends with a trip to the emergency room. In this post, we focus on two specific threats to a safe Halloween that concern our Panama City injury lawyer: burns and pedestrian accidents.
An often underestimated Halloween safety issue is the danger of burns. Open flames in jack-o-lanterns, torches, or candles can pose a danger to both children and adults. Flammable costumes are also a concern, despite federal law requiring costumes be flame-resistant. ABC News cites at least 16 costume-related burn injuries to children, including the death of a 12-year-old whose costume ignited when it drifted against a lit pumpkin. It is likely that many more burn injuries were linked to décor and not recorded as costume-related. Notably, Halloween is one of the top five days for home candle fires, according to the U.S. Fire Administration. Vigilance is key, but dangerous and flammable products should not be permitted on the market.
Our firm believes pedestrian safety is an important issue year-round, but particularly on Halloween. In an analysis of traffic safety data from 1997 to 2006, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration found that October 31st was the 2nd-deadliest day of the year for pedestrians nationwide. Notably, a study conducted by State Farm and researcher Bert Sperling reviewing data from 1990 through 2010 found that Halloween was the number one deadliest day for pedestrians under age 18. There were 115 child pedestrian fatalities identified in the time period for an average of 5.5 deaths each October 31, more than twice the average 2.6 child fatalities on other days. Breaking this down further, the riskiest hour was between 6 and 7 P.M. (25% of accidents), and 70% of accidents occurred outside of an intersection/crosswalk. Young drivers, aged 15-25 years, were involved in more of these fatal accidents (32%) than any other age group. As for the age of the pedestrians killed in Halloween collisions, children aged 12-15 were most at risk (32%) followed by the 5-8 year age range (23%).
Bottom line: Keeping the roads safe on Halloween requires the commitment of both pedestrians and drivers. This is a commitment that matters every day, but particularly on a night when children are out late, walking around communities, and extra-excited for the evening out.
We hope this Halloween brings lots of smiles and some well-planned thrills and chills. Stay safe by exercising appropriate parental supervision, ensuring children can see and be seen, choose costumes wisely, and walk with care. If your Halloween turns tragic because of someone else's negligence (or, though we hope never to hear of such events in our community, purposefully harmful acts), call our Panama City personal injury law firm. We hope your Halloween is safe, but we are here to help if someone else turns the celebration into tragedy.