Halloween is spooky, creepy and downright scary – but not just because of the dressed-up ghoulies and goblins.
As the tender pagan holiday draws nearer, more and more organizations are sending out news releases, announcements and other forms of warnings outlining all the hazards that surround this formerly fun and festive day.
While many of the warnings are valid – like taking care not to carve through your tendons while you carve out your jack-o-lantern – they also reflect the extreme paranoia that has come to pervade the nation.
Let’s start with the pumpkins. As already mentioned, the American Academy of Orthopeedic Surgeons (AAOS) begs you to keep that carving knife away from your tendons.
And make sure you use a carving knife in a well-lit area, not some dull steak knife in the dark. And for goodness sake, never let your kid have a pumpkin and a knife, especially if his age range is 10 to 14.
After all, Halloween is in the top three when it comes to holidays that land people in the emergency room, with kids age 10 to 14 constituting 30 percent of those visits. For the record, the other two most hazardous holidays are July 4 and New Year’s Eve.
Cuts to the fingers and hands are Halloween’s most common injuries around the ER, followed by fractures to those same areas.
Once you’ve carved up your pumpkin and no one ends up bleeding to death, your next precautionary move is to forget about putting a real candle inside. That’s way too much of a fire hazard.
Instead opt for a battery operated candle, one that flickers if you prefer realistic, and one on a timer so it doesn’t accidentally overheat.
And don’t you dare place that pumpkin on the porch. That’s just asking for trouble – and unwanted visitors.
Hooligans will be encouraged to steal and smash your handiwork, potentially hitting you on the head or strewing a stream of slick pumpkin pulp on your stairwell, risky for a slip.
Area wildlife will also be apt to stop by, the Arizona Game and Fish Department warns, looking for a feast.
“Coyotes, javelina, deer and even bears eat some of the vegetables that are part of traditional holiday displays,” a news release quoted Tucson’s Game and Fish Regional Supervisor Raul Vega. “When displayed outdoors, they may attract wildlife to homes, potentially creating conflicts with people.”
And just think how your pets will react if a bear suddenly bumbles onto your porch.
We didn’t even yet get into the other Halloween horrors that await your pets, usually sent out in list form from animal organizations.
Keep your animals inside, especially if you have a black cat. There are always “several accounts” of satanic rituals increasing on this creepy eve, and you don’t need Miss Kitty becoming a sacrifice.
Your kids, too, need some extra precautions, fire and police departments usually warn. Pick outfits that are flame retardant, highly reflective in traffic and don’t drag on the ground to prevent trips and falls.
Pay special attention to any masks to make sure you children can properly see and, more importantly, breathe. And steer clear of any masks resembling Nixon as an added precaution for personal protection.
While we’ve covered much ground on Halloween hazards that go down, we still haven’t even touched upon how to counter bullies who will do anything to steal bite-size Snickers bars or those heinous folks who stick apples full of razors blades.
Perhaps it’s just easier to forgo Halloween altogether. That would cut out all these hazards – and give us plenty of time to get started on safeguarding ourselves from the dangers of Christmas.
Ryn Gargulinski is a poet, artist, performer and TucsonCitizen.com Ryngmaster who found out the hazards of Halloween when she tried wearing giant wings in an elevator. Her column appears every Friday on Rynski’s Blogski. Her art, writing and more is at RynRules.com and Rynski.Etsy.com. E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
My scars still haven’t healed from the last Groundhog day, that’s a holiday that should happen once every ten years.
hahhahahah – oh, that nasty groundhog day – everything from the weather to the rodent himself throw so many variables into the mix. people are only BOUND to get hurt.
To keep in the spirit of hope and change, I think that there should be a Halloween safety and security Czar. The Winter Holiday Czar should have room in their building for temporary quarters until their own building is constructed with the stimulus shovel ready money.
ha! i imagine the ‘winter holiday’ czar, who is PC, as you noted, looks a bit like that cold miser of cold miser/heat miser fame. hahahahha.
I have a picture of you in the giant wings Ryn w/ your man Roadkill!
i am so honored, u-ski! yes, that photo i posted last halloween. NOOOOO wings for me this year, much too hazardous. i instead found the coolest velvet costume dress at savers that works as some kind of witch or demon or fairy godmother, depending on what boots i’ll wear – all sans wings!
Hey you one redheaded word maven! I just thought the pic was the coolest, the wings were amazing; kinda ‘fallen angel’ scary . . .
So it’s the boots that put the bias on the costume, eh?
Andres Con Queso
hahhaha! thanks, andres con queso – i WILL have fun as halloween is my top holiday. hope yours is equally as enjoyable – and you, too, get a costume with boots.
I remember that picture! I think I was the one who gave Ryn the idea for her beau to go to the Halloween party as roadkill
I love it!
My daughter and I are going to do the Zombie Walk tomorrow at Hotel Congress. Braaaaaaiiiiiiiiinnnnnnnsssssssssssssssssssssssssssssss!
ANDREW!!! I didn’t know it was you…
Hope the Zombie Walk was fun!
you got it, azmouse – you were the genius behind the roadkill outfit – coolest costume – and thanks!
I love, love pumpkin carving at Halloween! It’s won me some free Ryn-art!
I’m just trying to figure out how I’m going to have time to carve pumpkins this year because I am going to be a first time Grandma and if my daughter doesn’t have the baby by Oct. 29 we’ll be taking her in to get induced, so time might be tight.
Oh Mouse that is so wonderful! Congratulations to you all!
I always look forward to roasting pumpkin seeds, but my favorite part of halloween is seeing myself parodied in a child’s costume.
yaaaaay! so cool to hear baby is so soon on the way! congrats to you, grandma, as well as mom, dad and halloween season baby.
p.s. your pumpkin carving was tops!
Thanks everyone! I’m very excited. I’ll have to email pictures to everybody.
here we go with a safety press release from AAA sent Oct. 25 (this one even touches on drunken driving):
Child Pedestrian Deaths Four Times Higher on Halloween Night
AAA Arizona encourages parents, motorists follow Halloween safety tips
Phoenix, Ariz. October 25, 2010 – Halloween can be fun for people of all ages, but for young, costumed pedestrians, it can also be terrifyingly dangerous. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the number of fatalities among pedestrians ages five to 14 is four times higher on Halloween night than any other night of the year. As a result, AAA Arizona encourages everyone to avoid the dangers lurking on this evening by taking extra precautions.
“Young children are often too excited to pay attention to safety as they are out trick-or-treating, therefore it is especially important on this occasion that adults be more alert,” said Linda Gorman, director of communications and public affairs for AAA Arizona. “Before even leaving the house, parents should prepare their children for their night out, and party hosts and attendees need to have smart, responsible plans in place.”
AAA Arizona would like to offer the following safety tips to help everyone enjoy a spooky, but safe Halloween weekend:
Parents and trick-or-treaters
Select highly visible costumes. Look for light, bright and reflective costumes that make trick-or-treaters easy to see. Add reflective tape to costumes and treat buckets and bags to increase visibility. Avoid masks, as they can limit vision.
Ensure costumes fit well. Have trick-or-treaters try on, walk and play in costumes and shoes in advance to check fit. Make sure nothing comes loose or might cause the child to trip. Check that costume accessories do not obstruct the child’s view.
Review safety precautions with children. Include traffic safety rules, such as: stay on the sidewalk; cross the street at crosswalks; avoid walking in front of, behind or between parked cars; and stop at driveways to make sure no vehicles are coming in or out.
Plan trick-or-treating routes and supervision in advance. Avoid areas with heavy vehicle traffic and look for well-lit streets with sidewalks. Make arrangements for an adult to accompany young trick-or-treaters at least until the age of 12.
Get a flashlight with fresh batteries. A flashlight can help trick-or-treaters see and be seen, but it should never be directed at someone’s eyes, including those of passing motorists.
Motorists, party-goers and hosts
Plan your travel route carefully. Try to avoid cutting through residential areas that will likely have a large number of trick-or-treaters. If you must drive through a residential area to reach your destination, drive slowly, avoid distractions, and pay extra attention for children walking on the roadways who may not be watching for you. If providing directions to a party, make sure not to route guests through residential areas unnecessarily.
Slow down. A pedestrian is nearly twice as likely to be killed if they’re hit by a car going 30 mph compared to if they’re hit at 25 mph, according to the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety. What seems like a small difference – just 5 mph – can literally be the difference between life and death. According to the foundation’s Traffic Safety Culture Index released this month, a quarter of drivers reports having driven 15 mph over the speed limit on a residential in the past 30 days, and 20 percent have done so more than once. However, drivers rate this as one of the most unacceptable things a driver can do.
Do not let impaired guests drive. If hosting a Halloween party, remind guests to plan ahead and select their designated driver, offer alcohol-free beverages, and do not allow impaired guests to drive. You could also arrange safe, alternative transportation in advance, or prepare to host overnight guests if necessary.
Make plans to get home safely. If intending to consume alcohol, make plans to get home safely by selecting a designated driver or ensuring cab service is available from the party location.
Have safe transportation options ready. If hosting a party with alcohol, compile a list of phone numbers including local cab companies and organizations offering designated driver services to have readily available should guests need a safe way home.