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Halloween and personal injury: The scariest night of the year

Halloween and personal injury: The scariest night of the year

Partner Richard Apat, head of VMM’s Personal Injury and Real Estate Litigation practices, published an article today in The Island Now newspapers sharing Halloween safety tips.

It can be found in print in Great Neck NewsManhasset TimesNew Hyde Park Herald CourierPort Washington TimesRoslyn Times, and Williston Times, online at theisland360.com, and below.

  

Halloween and personal injury: The scariest night of the year

By Richard H. Apat

Halloween is a wonderful holiday, full of fun costumes, candy, and creepy-crawly decorations. It can also be a dangerous day, with higher rates of car accidents and other types of injury, especially for children.

With a little common sense and a few precautions, you can protect yourself, your family, and your community from avoidable injury.

COVID-19

Though the CDC no longer classifies indoor costume parties, haunted houses, and trick-or-treating as high-risk activities, they recommend the following:

  • If you, your children, or anyone you’ve come into contact with has exhibited signs of illness, stay home. ONCE AGAIN, COMMON SENSE!
  • Use extra caution with family members who are at high risk of developing severe COVID-19 illness.
  • Keep your hands clean. Wash them frequently and bring hand sanitizer with you.
  • If hosting a party, especially with kids or people you don’t associate with regularly, keep it small. If possible, keep the party outside, but if you’re inside, keep windows and doors partially open.

Precautions for parents

  • Consider limiting trick-or-treating to houses of friends and family with which you’ve arranged beforehand.
  • If you’re going out and visiting with strangers, consider masks—not just the scary kind.
  • When trick-or-treating, maintain safe distancing around other children.
  • Keep candy exchanges and visits short.
  • Wait to eat the candy at home.

Precautions for homeowners

  • If you’re handing out candy, step outside where there’s air flow.
  • Consider spreading the candy out on a table so kids don’t have to crowd together and rummage through it.
  • Put out a bottle of hand sanitizer. 

TRAFFIC ACCIDENTS

Many motor vehicle injuries occur on Halloween eve and night.

The risk is real; 5 to 15-year-olds are more than twice as likely to be hit by a car on Halloween than on any other day of the year. Over half of these cases involve alcohol.

Precautions for parents

  • Accompany your children on their trick-or-treating. Stay alert.
  • Discuss Halloween safety with them, with a focus on rules of the road; stay on the sidewalk, cross the street only at an intersection, etc.
  • If their costumes are dark, add reflective tape or stickers, lights, other visibility aids, or have them carry a flashlight or glowstick (if they’re embarrassed, these can be placed in their treat buckets. Phone flashlights also work).
  • Make sure they don’t ride their bikes or skateboards.
  • Arrange trick-or-treating groups with friends and other parents.

Precautions for drivers

  • Try to avoid driving on this evening. But if you do, take it slow, be more careful than usual, and of course, don’t drink or allow yourself to be otherwise impaired.
  • Obey all traffic laws, particularly the speed limit, and drive extra slowly in residential neighborhoods.
  • Be careful and alert. Expect children to jump in front of you without looking.
  • Turn your headlights on early in the day.
  • This is a day when you need to expect the unexpected.

Precautions for homeowners

  • If you’re expecting trick-or-treaters, make sure the area in front of your home is well-lit.

SLIP & FALLS

As kids dash about in a sugar-fueled craze to stockpile more candy, often in cumbersome and vision-limiting costumes, and with the weather making driveways and staircases wet and slippery, they’re more likely to trip, slip, or fall and get hurt.

Precautions for parents

  • Discuss Halloween safety with your children, reminding them not to run and to be careful when walking up and down stairs.
  • Hold younger children’s hands.
  • Make sure their costumes provide comfortable movement and unobstructed vision.
  • Be alert for any potential hazards on properties you enter.
  • Look for swaying or broken tree branches, unsecured heavy decorations, electrical wires near water or exposed, large cracks in the driveway, protruding pavers, etc. 

Precautions for homeowners

  • Make sure your property is safe and properly maintained.
  • Look for loose or damaged cement, bricks, pavers, boards, fence posts, etc.
  • Make sure the path to your front door is well lit and unobstructed.
  • Assume that you’ll have visitors that are not familiar with your property, and that defects that are normally open and obvious are concealed in the dark.
  • Same for your lawn, which excited children may cut through.
  • Remember that you may be liable for any injury sustained on your property, and take every precaution you can accordingly.

Let’s make Halloween spooky without being dangerous. Have a safe and happy Halloween!

   

Richard Apat is a partner in Vishnick McGovern Milizio LLP and leads the firm’s Personal Injury and Real Estate Litigation practices. He is a seasoned attorney with over thirty years of experience in plaintiff personal injury litigation, real estate litigation, and commercial litigation. He can be reached at rapat@vmmlegal.com and 516.437.4385 x152.