If the aisles full of bags of candy cropping up in grocery stores of late haven’t caught your attention, here’s a reminder: Halloween is just around the corner!
As youngsters excitedly choose their trick-or-treat costumes, Fullerton’s firefighters are reminding parents to be extra vigilant to keep the holiday safe for their children.
And the first way parents can keep their children safe, said Fullerton Fire Marshal Julie Kunze, is to supervise their youngsters' choice of costumes.
Parents should avoid flimsy materials and yards of sheeting when making costumes. "Ghost costumes made from bed sheets pose a very real danger to children," Kunze said. "In addition to posing a trip hazard or potentially blocking a child’s vision, a sheet could brush against a burning candle and catch fire, seriously injuring the child.”
Paper bag masks and costumes made of paper should also be avoided. When purchasing a costume, Kunze said to be sure it and any masks, wigs or beards that come with it are marked “fire-resistant” or some similar language. Costumes should be a light color so motorists can see them at night, and placing strips of reflectorized tape on the costume is an added safety measure.
Care should also be taken with Halloween decorations. "Autumn decorations like leaves and dry cornstalks can be very hazardous," Kunze said. "Keep lighted bulbs, open fires and smoking devices at a safe distance from any seasonal displays."
Other helpful Halloween hints offered by the fire marshal include:
- Never let children trick-or-treat by themselves. Have them travel with friends, and make sure an adult accompanies the group. Also, instruct children to cross at crosswalks or intersections, and never in the middle of the street.
- Give children flashlights or light sticks to carry when trick-or-treating.
- Never use lighted candles for decorations or jack-o-lanterns. Use a flashlight outdoors and a lightbulb indoors.
- Instruct trick-or-treaters not to eat any treat until their parent or guardian can examine it to make sure it has not been tampered with and is safe. Discard candy that appears to have been re-wrapped, as well as fruit and other goods with small holes or punctures.
Kunze also has one last haunting piece of advice - this one for motorists: "Please be careful when driving on Halloween night. Remember, there will be a lot of children on the streets in the evening and they may not be as careful as they should."
Kunze said according to the federal government, children 5-14 years of age are four times more likely to get hit by vehicles on Halloween than any other time of the year, and falls are the leading cause of injuries to children on Halloween.
“That’s why we urge parents to accompany their children, to carefully plan their route, to make sure the children cross streets in marked crosswalks, and to always carry a cell phone with them in case of emergencies,” the fire marshal said.
Further tips for Halloween and year-round fire safety may be obtained by calling the Fire Prevention Division of the Fullerton Fire Department at (714) 738-6500.