October 24, 2005                                                         Contact:Lucas Hamilton

DON'T LET HALLOWEEN TURN INTO A NIGHTMARE On one of the most dangerous nights of the year, Auditor Morrison offers tips to stay safe


      Helena, Mont., October 24, 2005 - Usually a treat for children, Halloween is one of the most dangerous holidays of the year. As Montana's insurance commissioner, State Auditor John Morrison is reminding Montanans to be especially careful this Halloween season.
      "Halloween is one of the most exciting nights of the year for children, but also one of the most dangerous," said Morrison. "From an insurance standpoint, we see more accidents including home fires, child injuries and pedestrian deaths this time of year than any other."
      Except for the 4th of July, more fires are reported on Halloween than any other day of the year. According to the United States Fire Administration, on Halloween, and the night before, suspicious structure fires are about 60 percent more frequent than on an average day. A study conducted by the National Fire Protection Association over a three-year period found that an average of 15,500 fires occurred between October 30 and November 1 causing $92 million in losses.
      Children are four times more likely to be hit and killed by an automobile on Halloween night according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). Next to New Year's, it is the second deadliest holiday for pedestrians.
      The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) estimates that 4,000 serious injuries occur between 4-10 p.m. on Halloween involving children aged 5 to 14 nationwide. Pedestrian injury remains the second leading cause of unintentional injury-related death among children ages 5 to 14, according to the NHTSA.
      "Drivers need to be particularly cautious with the season's shortened daylight hours and with children scurrying from house to house collecting treats -- It can be a very dangerous combination," cautioned Morrison. "Parents, children, drivers and homeowners all should use a little extra caution and heed some common-sense safety tips."
      Through the end of October, the Montana State Auditor's office will be posting on its web site at www.sao.mt.gov a free downloadable Halloween safety tip sheet for parents, homeowners, schools or anyone else interested in staying safe this Halloween season.
      
      Halloween Safety Tips from Auditor Morrison
      
      Costume safety
      

  • Use face paints instead of masks.
  • Require children to wear comfortable shoes and dress appropriately for weather conditions.
  • Avoid costume accessories, such as knives, swords, broom handles and wands that could cause harm.
  • Avoid loose-fitting costumes that could cause a child to trip and fall.
  • Add reflective tape to costumes.
  • Small children should have their names and addresses attached to their costumes.
      
      Trick or treating safety
      
  • An adult should accompany young trick-or-treaters.
  • Cover safety rules with kids before allowing them to go trick-or-treating.
  • Set a trick-or-treating route and stick with it.
  • Remind kids to visit homes familiar to them or you, and don't approach unlit homes.
  • Provide kids with small, battery-powered flashlights.
  • Stay on sidewalks and avoid crossing yards.
  • Cross streets at the corner, use crosswalks (where they exist) and do not cross between parked cars.
  • Inspect all Halloween treats before children start feasting.
  • Discard any food that isn't in its original and undamaged wrapper.
  • Keep homemade food only if you know who prepared it.
      
      Motorist Safety
      
  • Drivers, slow down! Watch for children in the street and on medians
  • Be ready for children to dart out and cross streets at any point.
  • Exit driveways and alleyways carefully.
      
      Homeowner Safety
      
  • Turn on all outside lights. Leave them on all night to deter vandalism.
  • Make sure walks and pathways are clear of debris, leaves, garden equipment and lawn decorations.
  • If your pumpkin gets smashed on your sidewalk, clean up all the slippery goo.
  • Move cars, bikes, planters, sprinklers and other items into a locked garage or inside the house to deter theft or vandalism.
  • Keep your pet properly restrained when you open the door for trick-or-treaters for the safety of both your visitors and your pet.
      
      Fending off fire hazards
      
  • Avoid decorating with candles. Use small flashlights.
  • Keep crepe paper and other party decorations away from heat sources, including light bulbs.
  • Remember that dried flowers and cornstalks are highly flammable.
  • Use flame-retardant costumes. Use fire resistant material when making costumes.
  • Avoid costumes made of flimsy material and outfits with big, baggy sleeves or billowing skirts. These are more likely to come in contact with an exposed flame, such as a candle, than tighter fitting costumes.
  • Keep candles, pumpkins with candles, matches and lighters out of children's reach.
  • Keep exits clear. Keep fire extinguishers close if open flames are burning.