But Before We Get to Halloween - As I post this, Hurricane Sandy is bearing down on the East Coast. In DC, the rain is now steady and the winds are picking up. I'm not tempting fate by going out, but some have to - because of job, family, or an emergency. Wheverever you are, if you're in the path of the storm, stay safe and be sane. And I hope that you will have power and the energy on Wednesday to enjoy Halloween.
By now you have seen innumerable cute, Halloween-themed recipes. And I'll bet you have a Halloween candy plan in place, whether you buy only as much as you expect to give out or hope to horde some for later consumption. If you have kids or are going to a grown-up Halloween party, you may well have planned, bought or made costumes too. In other words, you are well prepared to celebrate if you are so inclined.
The fun stuff is what Halloween should be about - not an unintended and unfortunate “incident” that mars the memories and maybe worse.
I’m not a Debby Downer-type; I just prefer sensible risk management to after-the-fact crisis management, especially when it comes to my friends, family, and personal safety.
I’m not an alarmist either. For example, those who worry about sending kids out to trick-or-treat might rest a little easier knowing that at least one study has shown that Halloween is not a statistically riskier time for sex crimes against children than any other time of the year. Sure you have to take reasonable precautions to keep kids safe, but isn’t that the case every day?
Candles and Other Decorations
Although the flame of a candle doesn’t seem ominous, it only takes the brush of a flowing robe against it, or a careless step to knock it over and begin a fire. Dried flower stalks, crepe paper, and similar decorations are quite flammable and need to be kept far away from candles or other open flames. How about avoiding candles entirely and instead using flashlights or LEDs in pumpkins or Halloween decorative bags?
Halloween is the second most dangerous day of the year for pedestrians (the deadliest is New Year’s Day) according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Over 75% of pedestrian deaths occur outside of intersections. Seeing kids dashing across the middle of a street is a common sight on Halloween. Even if you drive at or below the speed limit, it’s a heart-stopping moment when a kid darts between two parked cars right in front of your car. Just this one night, can’t you take a few extra minutes to drive extra slowly and carefully?
Halloween and drinking go together at many grown-up holiday parties. And while the party may be fun, driving while impaired is serious business. In 2010, over 40% of all highway fatalities involved a car or motorcycle driver with a blood alcohol level of .08% or higher. Check out this blood alcohol calculator (from the University of Oklahoma Police Department) to see just how little alcohol it takes to become impaired. You’ve heard this over and over – don’t drive drunk or even if you’re just mildly impaired. Find a friend to drive you home, take public transportation or call a cab, stay where you are, or walk – the alternatives are many and infinitely better than driving drunk.
The Aftermath - Hungover?
I’ve given hangover advice before – what to do and what remedies are more malarkey than helpful fact. The single most important piece of counsel in my view is to make sure that anyone who drinks too much should stay with at least one other person watching to make sure they recover safely. Don’t leave a friend to “sleep it off” and go away, believing he or she will be fine with a good night’s rest. Check on them and if you see any sign of alcohol poisoning or other serious condition, get medical attention immediately.
If this post felt preachy to you, so be it. If you to take one extra precaution you wouldn’t have otherwise, I’ll consider the preachy label well worth the cost.