Plan for a safe Halloween

Published 10:42 pm Friday, October 29, 2010

The United States Census Bureau estimates that 36 million children will participate in trick-or-treating this weekend. And a few thousand of those kids are expected to be knocking on doors around Suffolk on the evening of Halloween.

It’s a great time for children who always wanted to be superheroes or princesses or animals and for the parents and grandparents who love them. And it’s especially nice for anybody with a sweet tooth. Even some adults look forward to the chance to “share” the haul that their trick-or-treaters bring home.

Most parents are aware of the obvious potential dangers to their trick-or-treating children on Halloween night. Unwrapped candy. Lurking strangers. Fire dangers. Traffic.

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But here’s a sobering statistic: Nearly 5,000 people in the U.S. died in crashes during the Halloween time period from 1996-2005. Nighttime is an especially dangerous time to be on the road, but Halloween night is often one of the deadliest nights of the year for impaired drivers.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, in 2008, 58 percent of all highway fatalities across the nation on Halloween night (6 p.m. Oct. 31 to 5:59 a.m. Nov. 1) involved a driver or a motorcycle rider with a blood alcohol concentration of .08 or higher, which is illegal in every state. And those drunk drivers weren’t just endangering themselves, they were putting children at risk in neighborhoods all around the nation.

If you’re going to a Halloween party tonight or tomorrow, remember these tips:

  • Plan a safe way home before the festivities begin;
  • Before drinking, designate a sober driver and give that person your keys;
  • If you’re impaired, use a taxi, call a sober friend or family member or use public transportation so you are sure to get home safely.

If you see a suspected drunk driver on the road, do not hesitate to call the police. And if you’re the parent or guardian of a child who will be trick-or-treating, stay close at hand, make sure your child checks both ways before crossing the street, and be home by 8 p.m., the city’s curfew for trick-or-treating.