Halloween safety precautions

vector-cute-halloween-illustration_53-15081WESTFIELD – Ghouls, goblins and (perhaps especially this year) zombies will be abroad on All Hallows’ Eve tonight and State Fire Marshal Stephen D. Coan has offered advice for parents sending their children out trick-or-treating.
Foremost in his advice is that children should be visible to help prevent accidents. He recommends that children should carry flashlights and wear brightly colored costumes or costumes which include strips of reflective tape to make them stand out in the darkness.
Children should wear sturdy shoes and warm clothing under their costumes which should be made with flame retardant materials and free from tails or trailing materials which could make children trip or fall. Pointed accessories such as pitchforks or swords should be made of soft materials.
In addition to being seen, children should be able to see without obstruction so makeup may be better with a costume than a mask.
Coan suggests that, if a mask is used, parents should check to ensure that the eyeholes are big enough to allow a full range of vision.
Young children, of course, should be escorted while trick-or-treating and should go out early.
Older children allowed to celebrate without adults should be taught safety habits and rules should be clearly established.
Parents should insist that their children only visit neighborhoods which they know and their parents are comfortable with. They should stay in a group, walk on sidewalks and cross streets at corners.
Children should be instructed not to cross back and forth but should cover one side of a street at a time and visit only houses with decorations or illuminated lighting which indicate that Halloween visitors are welcome.
Coan warns that parents should ensure that children know not to go into the homes of anybody they, and their families, don’t know and should never accept a ride or get into a vehicle.
Parents should tell their children when they have to be home and provide them with a cellphone for use in case of emergency.
They should also be told not to eat any of their treats before they get home where parents should inspect their loot as soon as they return.
Coan said that any items which appear to have been tampered should be safely discarded and any homemade or home-packaged treats should be removed unless parents are certain of the source.
He also points out that not all treats are appropriate for all age children so parents checking candy should be on the lookout for hard candies or other items that little children could choke on.
The fire marshal also had suggestions for residents welcoming children on Halloween.
He said that all decorations should be made from flame retardant materials and any flames or heat sources should be kept well distant from decorations, such as corn stalks or leaves. Coan recommends that Jack o’ Lanterns be illuminated by flashlights or battery operated ‘candles’.
He also suggests that entry areas where children approach should be well lit and free of obstructions, such as lawn furniture or bicycles which could trip youngsters approaching in the dark.
Local firefighters echoed the marshal’s recommendations and the Westfield fire prevention officer, Dep. Chief Patrick Egloff, had one additional reminder.
He points out that, at the end of the Halloween weekend, Daylight Savings Time will end and clocks will have to be changed.
He reminds residents to “change your clocks, change your batteries” and urges them to replace batteries in smoke and carbon monoxide detectors when they change their clocks as they “fall back” to Eastern Standard Time at 2 a.m. Sunday.

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