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Linda Chalat
Linda Chalat
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Safety Reminders for Grown-Up Ghouls

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A record 170 million people plan to celebrate Halloween this year, according to National Retailers Federation’s 2012 Halloween consumer spending survey. Seven in 10 Americans will get into the haunting Halloween mood, the most in NRF’s 10-year survey history. Consumers are expecting to spend more too; the average person will spend $79.82 on decorations, costumes and candy, with total Halloween spending expected to reach $8.0 billion.

With so many grown-up ghouls and ghosties running around celebrating, it is to forget those safety lessons always stressed with children, but perhaps forgotten by our more mature macabre merry-makers.

Pumpkin Safety:

Nothing says Halloween like a jack-o-lantern, but carving one can be a cutlery challenge. Your hands are covered with pumpkin slime, making everything slippery than bat drool, and one false move with the carving knife and you may have a real life severed finger for a party decoration! Be especially careful when cutting out that pumpkin. Make sure you use a sharp knife with a firm handle and always keep it pointed away from your body, any limbs, or anyone else who happens to be nearby. Consider a pumpkin carving kit which comes with carving tools that are more like saws than knives. These actually work much better than a knife and they’re much safer because they grip onto the pumpkin better.

Candle Safety:

The finishing touch to your carved pumpkin – the candle! For many folks, Halloween seems the perfect time to light multitudes of candles, but burning candles unattended is never a good idea. If you must use a real candle inside your jack-o-lantern, then be certain the pumpkin is placed safely away from anything flammable, such as costumes, curtains, plants, or props. Also, never leave the candles lit after you’ve gone to bed. It might seem like a good idea to keep your scary Halloween pumpkin lit all night long, but you never know when a dog is going to knock it over any number of other things that could cause it to catch your house on fire. The safest choice is to get battery powered pumpkin lights that flicker just like real candles do!

Costume Safety:

This year adults will spend more on their own costumes ($1.21 billion) than on costumes for kids ($1 billion), a trend that’s also picking up steam. But if you are wearing a Halloween mask as part of your costume, make sure the eye, nose, mouth, and ear holes are wide enough so you can see, breathe, and hear properly. Never drive a vehicle while wearing a Halloween mask. Most Halloween masks obscure your peripheral vision to some extent and may even prevent you from turning your head properly, so place the mask on the passenger’s seat and put it on once you arrive at that fun Halloween party.

Drinking Safety:

This is the really scary part – people drinking and then driving. Don’t do it. Plan ahead to get home safely by selecting a designated driver or ensuring cab service is available from the party location. Never ride with a driver who has been drinking. If needed, consider an overnight stay. If attending a party at a friend’s home, consider asking to stay overnight. If participating in festivities in a downtown or commercial area, look into hotel accommodations within walking distance. Many hotels offer special Halloween weekend rates and promotions.

And if you are hosting a Halloween party, be certain that none of the impaired guests drive. Prepare a list of local taxi companies in advance to have ready should guests need to call one.

Driving Safety:

If possible, try to avoid cutting through residential areas where trick-or-treaters are likely to be present. If providing directions to a party, try not to route guests through residential areas unnecessarily.

When in a residential area, watch for children in the street. Many trick-or-treating children may not pay attention to traffic and might cross mid-block or between parked cars. Motorists should scan far ahead when driving in residential areas, watch for children and cautiously monitor their actions. Obey the posted speed limit. When driving through residential areas where trick-or-treaters are likely, consider driving five miles per hour less than the posted speed limit.