Halloween health, safety tips to keep Dixie incident-free

ST. GEORGE – A large number of kids will disperse through the streets of Southern Utah this week, hopped up on sugar and enthusiasm.  Over the last two Halloween holidays in Utah four kids have been hit by cars, one of them was a fatal death in 2012. On Halloween, children are twice as likely to get hit by a car than any other day of the year.

However, Southern Utah safety officials say they haven’t experienced any substantial tragedy on Halloween. St. George Police Department Sgt. Sam Despain and La Verkin Police Chief Lloyd Watkins both said that their respective departments rarely see any substantial mischief on Halloween.

“We don’t experience a lot of problems, Despain said, most people are on their best behavior.”

However, St. George officers are aware that there are certainly more people drinking and partying during Halloween. In years past they have seen a slight spike in drunk drivers, Despain said, but nothing substantial.

La Verkin Police Chief Lloyd Watkins mirrored what Despain said but added that they often see a small spike in juvenile mischief as well.

“People are pretty well behaved. We’ll get some juveniles smashing pumpkins later on in the evening,” Watkins said, “but for the most part people are pretty good.”

Both the St. George Police Department and the LaVerkin Police department officers stay extra vigilant for extra impaired drivers on Halloween.

However, “what we’ve experienced is that people do drink responsibly,” Despain said. “We would encourage people to have a good time, but just do it responsibly”

The community is a safe environment, Despain said of St. George, and encouraged people to go out and have fun on Halloween.

To help Southern Utah have one more incident-free year of Halloween fun, use this Halloween safety list. It is suggested that parents have a frank discussion with their kids before they go out trick or treating.

If you’re a driver, follow this list of proven safe-driving strategies to drastically improve your driving and lower your risks of causing accidents on Halloween. Both Watkins and Despain made significant contributions to this list of safety tips.

Safety for Parents and Kids

  • Attach reflective gear, or glow sticks to your costumes. This alone, greatly lowers the risk of getting hit by a car. See the St. George News Halloween events guide for local event handing out reflective safety bracelets on Halloween afternoon; “Little Goblins and Monsters Spook Alley.”
  • Carry a flashlight or wear a headlamp.
  • Avoid masks. Masks can block a child’s full vision from vehicles coming out of driveways and around corners.
  • Send kids out in groups. This will make them more visible.
  • Send adult supervision.
  • Don’t stay out too late. Plan a set time for kids to return home.
  • Don’t enter anyone’s house you don’t know.
  • Avoid costumes with loose clothing. Loose clothing has been the cause of costumes catching on fire and children tripping and falling
  • Accessorize with flexible props, such as rubber swords. Inflexible props can cause serious injury during a fall
  • Attach the name, address and phone number of children under age 13 to their costume in case they get separated from adults. Have each child carry a cell phone.
  • Remind children to cross the street only at crosswalks or intersections; never between parked cars. Remind your child to always look both ways before crossing.

Safety for drivers on halloween night

  • Get rid of ALL distractions. Most accidents are caused by distractions. Your chance of accidents is drastically lowered by focusing all of your attention on the road
  • Drive considerably more slowly on Halloween and anticipate heavy pedestrian traffic
  • Enter and exit driveways and alleyways slowly and more carefully
  • Take extra time to make yourself aware of kids on curbs, at intersections and on medians
  • Remember that children are very enthusiastic for Halloween and may move in unpredictable ways

Health tips for kids and parents

  • Talk to your child about boundaries on how many pieces of candy they should consume on Halloween night; three to five is recommended
  • Provide your child with a nutritious meal that includes fruits and vegetables before they go trick-or-treating and provide them with plenty of water; this will lower their appetite for sweets
  •  Remind your child not to eat any treats before you have a chance to examine them thoroughly for holes and punctures; throw away all unwrapped treats
  • Parents of children with food allergies must read every candy label in their child’s Halloween bag to avoid a potentially life-threatening situation
  • Offer to “buy back” candy your child receives in exchange for toys; see the St. George News Halloween events guide for info on local “Cash 4 candy” buy-back program
  •  Set aside time for your child to be active to help burn the extra calories consumed
  • When choosing sweets to give out, select ones with nutritional value such as dark chocolate or candies with nuts

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Email: dallred@stgnews.com

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Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2013, all rights reserved.

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