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Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Halloween Safety Tips

Before Halloween the Amherst Police Department reminds you to:

- Obtain flashlights with fresh batteries for all children and their escorts.
- Plan costumes that are bright and reflective.
- Consider adding reflective tape or striping to costumes and trick-or-treat bags for greater visibility.
- Secure emergency identification (name, address, phone number) discreetly within Halloween attire or on a bracelet.
- Because a mask can limit or block eyesight, consider non-toxic and hypoallergenic makeup or a decorative hat as a safe alternative.
- When shopping for costumes, wigs and accessories, purchase only those with a label indicating they are flame resistant.
- Think twice before using simulated knives, guns or swords. If such props must be used, be certain they do not appear authentic and are soft and flexible to prevent injury.
- Plan ahead to use only battery powered lanterns or chemical lightsticks in place of candles in decorations and costumes.
- Teach children their home phone number and to how call 9-1-1 if they have an emergency or become lost. Remind them that 9-1-1 can be dialed free from any phone.
- Openly discuss appropriate and inappropriate behavior at Halloween time.
- Always use the front door - NEVER go to the back of a house.
- Stay on the sidewalks. If there is no sidewalk, walk on the left side of the road.
- Inspect the bag of goodies before letting the kids dig in. Make sure wrappers are on candy and have not been opened. Examine and wash any fruit before eating it.
- Take extra effort to eliminate tripping hazards on your porch and walkway. Check around your property for flower pots, low tree limbs, support wires or garden hoses that may prove hazardous to young children rushing from house to house.
- Consider safe party guidelines when hosting an adult or office party.


Gavin Andresen said...

I have to quibble with this piece of advice:

-Inspect the bag of goodies before letting the kids dig in. Make sure wrappers are on candy and have not been opened. Examine and wash any fruit before eating it.

According to snopes.com, my favorite site for debunking urban legends, poisoned Halloween candy from strangers is a myth (and the risk of foreign objects in candy/fruit threat is WAAAY overblown -- has there EVER been an incident locally?).

There's "err on the side of caution" and then there's "being afraid of your own shadow", and I think we should concentrate on the REAL dangers of halloween (like getting hit by a car).

Amherst Police said...

Point taken, but we’re the police so I guess we always try to err on the side of caution? I still say inspect the candy, wash the fruit AND wear reflective clothing so your visible to passing motorists. Thanks for the comment.
Lt. Jennifer Gundersen

Gavin Andresen said...

If you mix in very unlikely risks with very real risks you dilute your message; it's easy to be overloaded with information these days, and hard to figure out what's important and what's not.

I had the same reaction when my wife was pregnant after reading the popular book "what to expect when you're expecting," where the advice ranged from "don't smoke" to "don't curl your toes" with no indication as to how risky those activities really were or what the consequences were likely to be if that advice wasn't followed.

(Smoking is really bad for you and your baby. Curling your toes when your pregnant: you might get a painful foot cramp.)

(Getting hit by a car when you're trick-or-treating is really bad. Biting into an apple and getting stuck with a needle is very unlikely, and, even if it happens, most likely won't even require a trip to the emergency room).

Eva Schiffer said...

I, on the other hand, think this is all terrific advice. I only wish you had posted it a bit earlier and also submitted it to the Amherst Bulletin.

No, Gavin, I don't remember a local incident with poisoned candy, but you are probably too young to remember the period of two or more years when stuff was inserted in candy elsewhere, with dire consequences. I'm glad that this junk food we all hand out these days comes in bite-sized wrappers. Might as well take advantage of them.

Have a safe Hallowe'en!

Amherst Police said...

All good points. I'll remember the Bulletin for next year. While the needle in the apple is unlikely, were it to occur I'd suggest a trip to the hospital. Immediately! And a call to us.
Lt. Jen Gundersen

Anonymous said...

Of course you go to the hospital when stuck by a needle! Why wouldn't you? With the amount of disease and blood-born pathogens, not to mention drugs that the needle could have been used for. Always take the extra step and get checked out when stuck by a needle, you have no idea where it could have been used for previously.
Great Job Amherst PD!!

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