Be scary safe: How to have a great Halloween that puts safety first
PHOENIX — As pretty much everyone knows, Halloween is Monday.
The day is traditionally reserved for a celebration of all things ghoulish — OK, candy too — but it can also prove a dangerous night as thousands in the Phoenix area take to the streets.
From darkly-clothed children to a possibly-frustrating commute, Halloween presents several serious safety concerns that have numerous authorities encouraging everyone to be scary safe.
To make things a little simpler, we broke down safety tips in the order in which you may experience the evening, from your drive home to a nightcap out with friends.
Halloween safety begins the second you leave the office. The Arizona Department of Transportation is encouraging commuters to plan for rush hour beginning ahead of schedule and a longer-than-normal drive home.
“When Halloween falls on a weekday, and this year it’s on a Monday, the afternoon commute starts earlier and it’s a little bit heavier,” Doug Pacey with ADOT said. “Lots of people want to get home for trick-or-treating or parties.”
Pacey said the freeways will likely begin filling before 4 p.m. His agency will have a special Halloween-themed message on freeway boards for drivers.
“Mummy knows best: Wrap yourself in a seat belt,” he said.
But the drive doesn’t stop at the off-ramp. Tim Eider with the Peoria Medical and Fire Department said people need to use a lot of caution while winding their way through haunted neighborhood streets.
“(Drive) at least 5 mph under the speed limit,” he said, adding that drivers should assume a child could pop out from behind a car at any time.
Eider also cautioned against using high beams to avoid other drivers and to park in a driveway, if possible, to keep visibility at a maximum.
After you arrive home safely, it’s time to either take the little ones out for trick-or-treating (pro tip: Phoenix is one of the best cities in the U.S. for getting candy) or hang out at home and pass out goodies.
Eider said parents should help get their kids ready to hit the streets.
“The first most important thing people can do is choose the right costume,” he said. “A dark costume makes a child virtually invisible to motor vehicles on the street.”
Eider said parents should also ensure a child wearing a mask can see everything around them.
Phoenix Fire Capt. Mark Vanacore said masks and hoods should also allow for plenty of ventilation to avoid overheating, even with the forecast calling for a high in the low 80s.
“Those (heat incidents) can creep up on is in even the somewhat cooler temperatures than what we’ve had,” he said, adding that children should stay hydrated.
Eider said children — especially those who insist on wearing a dark costume — should carry some form of light, be it a flashlight or glow stick, or have reflective tape on their costume.
He also said young children should be accompanied by an adult, but older children should be given guidelines before they head out.
“Give them some ground rules: Don’t go inside somebody’s home or vehicle for a treat, stay in groups, stay in well-lit areas … and, most important, always assume cars can’t see you,” he said, adding that those rules should include avoiding certain houses.
“If a home doesn’t have their lights on or doesn’t appear inviting, I wouldn’t go to that home,”
Silent Witness Sgt. Jaime Rothschild said children should carry flexible costume props and everyone in the group — parents included — should be paying attention to their surroundings, not their cellphones.
“The biggest safety tip we can offer is awareness,” he said.
Eider also offered this small tidbit for parents: “If they (kids) have a good, solid dinner before they go out, it’s a good way to avoid those tummy aches later.”
Some people choose to stay in on Halloween and pass out candy, which seems like a safe decision. After all, not much can happen to you inside your own home, right?
Rothschild said that may not be entirely true.
“This is the only time of year where somebody would come up to your home in a mask, ring the doorbell and you’d open the door and give them things,” he said.
Rothschild suggested sitting outside and welcoming trick-or-treaters instead of allowing them — and those with them — to come to your door.
After the kids are back, some adults may choose to go out and have a creepy cocktail or two to mark the holiday. While plenty of bars are sure to have events that night, getting home safely can be a concern.
Drunk driving is a big concern on Halloween, according to the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration.
“Whatever you do, don’t get behind the wheel after drinking,” Tracie Breeden with Uber said.
Breeden said her company, along with others, will be ready to give rides on Halloween to make sure everyone ends the holiday on a safe note.
She said Uber does its best to put a lot of drivers on the road at popular times — think 2 a.m., or the time the bars close — to get people a ride in short order.
“We expect that. We do all kind of incentives to get our drivers out on Halloween,” she said.
KTAR’s Ashley Flood contributed to this report.
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