15 Oct

10 Tips To Help Families Stay Safe This Halloween (From Personal Injury Lawyers)

Personal Injury

halloween 2020 safety tips

Halloween is always one of the most dangerous nights of the year in terms of accidents, (particularly for children), but in a global pandemic, there are even more hazards to consider. In this blog, we’ll discuss the general risks, the extra risks that this particular Halloween will hold, and what families can do to stay safe, from a personal injury perspective! Read on for 10 Halloween 2020 safety tips.

Why is Halloween so dangerous?

The very nature of Halloween is what makes it a risk. The Florida Law Group is not anti-Halloween, but we do understand, as any thinking observer would, that a night when millions of pedestrians who are not dressed as pedestrians walk on neighborhood roads at night, going door-to-door visiting strangers houses consuming candy, and when teenagers or young adults throw parties where alcohol is involved, and when houses are decorated with candles, is going to carry inherent risks.

Consider the following statistics regarding some categories of Halloween injuries and fatalities:

  • Children are 3x more likely to be struck and killed by a car on Halloween than any other day of the year; an average of 54 pedestrians younger than 18 were killed by cars on Halloween from 2004-2018, compared to an average of 16 pedestrians younger than 18 killed on other days. More children are on the roads on Halloween, and they are smaller, so drivers have a difficult time seeing them, especially in poorly lit neighborhoods or if the children aren’t highly visible. 70% of parents don’t accompany their children who are trick-or-treating, and 63% of children don’t carry a flashlight. Many children do not have any sort of reflective tape or visibility aids on their costume, which may be dark as it is. At night, the danger of being struck by a driver increases significantly.
  • 52% of motor vehicle collision deaths on Halloween involve alcohol. That’s over half – a sobering statistic when the implications are considered. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) released a report in 2015 that showed Halloween had a higher rate of drunk driving deaths than any other holiday – NYE included. Any accident is a tragedy, but accidents involving alcohol that could have been prevented are truly heartbreaking – particularly when children are the victims.
  • 13$ million worth of property damage is caused and 41 people (on average) are injured by house fire accidents each Halloween.
  • 41% of the 4,500 Halloween-related injuries reported between October and November in 2017 were related to pumpkin carving (that’s almost half!)

It’s not just the behavior of the individual trick-or-treaters, or the behavior of non-intoxicated and non-speeding drivers, that is to blame, although that is a major contributing factor. There are more SUVs on the road, which are higher off of the ground and are more dangerous for pedestrians (especially children). Neighborhoods without sidewalks or crosswalks that aren’t well lit are also making the environment more dangerous for everyone.
What extra risk factors make this Halloween (October 31st, 2020) extra scary?

There are three major reasons that this Halloween – Halloween in a pandemic – is going to be even more hazardous. For one thing, Halloween falls on a Saturday this year. Research has shown that drunk driving crashes tend to increase whenever holidays occur during the weekend. For another, people are out of practice with driving. Quarantining has meant everyone this year has spent more time at home and less time on the roads; and though this is not a holiday like Thanksgiving or Christmas, where people travel long distances, local accidents are still a very real concern. Out-of-practice drivers may either be more nervous getting behind the wheel than in years prior, or more overconfident in their judgement, both of which are problematic attitudes.

The most obvious, and scary, reason that this Halloween is going to be more dangerous is the presence of COVID-19 itself. The CDC has already discouraged trick-or-treating and labeled it as a high-risk activity, and they did this because of the amount of people who will be out of their homes, crowded on sidewalks or roads with groups of other people, going door to door greeting strangers. Gathering for large Halloween parties is also discouraged. The exposure risk IS high, particularly as a second wave seems to be starting across the world and in many parts of the U.S. While the danger to kids who contract the virus isn’t as high as it is for elderly adults, kids can still transmit the virus to parents and to grandparents. Long-term effects of COVID-19 are still being researched, but the virus, as you are probably aware, has no current cure or vaccine.

What safety precautions do families need to take to protect themselves?

The personal injury lawyers at The Florida Law Group want everyone to stay safe this Halloween. We have seen firsthand how devastating accident injuries can be for victims and their families. You can’t control others, but you can follow these Halloween 2020 safety tips to do your best to keep you and your family safe!

  1. Follow CDC guidelines of Halloween 2020 safety tips to avoid contracting and spreading the coronavirus. The complete list can be found here, but some recommendations are to not replace costume masks with cloth masks, maintain 6 feet of distance between you and others, and wash your hands/sanitize your hands frequently.
  2. Under no circumstances should you drive – or walk – drunk, buzzed, tipsy, or under the influence of alcohol. Even consuming a little bit of alcohol before getting behind the wheel can have deadly consequences. Driving drunk impairs judgement and slows reaction times, and while many people think walking drunk is safer, it actually increases your chances of getting struck by a vehicle. Call a ridesharing service such as Uber or Lyft if you need to travel.
  3. Drivers should also be especially cautious about avoiding speeding or texting while driving, as these can have fatal consequences as well. If you are driving in a neighborhood, drive under the speed limit slowly so you can keep an eye out for potential pedestrians who are not paying attention.
  4. If you are a parent, make sure you accompany your children if they are trick or treating, unless they are an older teenager who you trust to make smart decisions. Young children especially may be overly excited and forget basic caution – you can help them watch their surroundings, cross the street safely, and protect them from other dangers.
  5. If you are a home/property owner handing out candy, you should make sure there are no obstructions, holes, or other safety hazards on your property that could be missed by trick or treaters in the dark. If you have a dog, you should keep it away from the door, as the constant stream of visitors, scary costumes, and ringing doorbell may cause distress.
  6. Don’t choose a costume (or allow your children to wear a costume) that obscures the field of vision or that is too dark to be seen by other pedestrians or drivers at night. Use reflective tape if needed and carry a flashlight or glowsticks with you.
  7. Make sure that you choose costumes that are fire-resistant. Completely blow out and cover all candles when you leave a room or go to bed; double check them to make sure that there are not remaining embers or flames. Keep flammable decorations away from candles or open flame.
  8. When carving pumpkins, use only knives and other carving utensils specifically designed for pumpkin carving. Only carve in a well-lit area, and avoid placing real candles inside the pumpkins – opt for LED lights instead.
  9. Wear proper footwear that won’t cause you to slip and fall or to twist your ankle.
  10. Discuss these safety tips, and the increased risk, with your family. Sometimes a logical discussion can help stubborn teenagers realize the dangers, or setting rules can help young children remember to be careful.

Thanks for reading these Halloween 2020 safety tips! If you are involved in an accident this Halloween, call the experienced, compassionate attorneys at The Florida Law Group. We can help you understand your legal options!