I’ve never been a big fan of Halloween because it has taken on a sinister, dark, and scary nature. As a child, I enjoyed dressing up in a homemade costume and going from door-to-door with my older brother to procure those tasty treats. We never had to worry about danger lurking around the corner or mischievous acts. We just enjoyed seeing our neighbors and other kids enjoying the evening. Times have changed, but there are still some safe ways to enjoy Halloween.
For some, Halloween means children getting outdoors to enjoy treats, fun, and games. Although Halloween comes before the change back to standard time this year, the days are getting shorter, and the nights are getting longer. With shorter days comes more night driving. Because nighttime driving is more dangerous, it requires extra attention from motorists, as well as pedestrians and bicyclists. Sadly, Halloween also increases the number of drunk drivers on the road at night. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports that from 2012 to 2016, 44% of all people killed in motor vehicle crashes on Halloween night were in crashes involving a drunk driver.
NHTSA also reports that nearly two-thirds of all fatal pedestrian crashes and about 20% of fatal bicycle crashes occur in low-light conditions. The large number of young pedestrians out on Halloween evening makes this an especially dangerous time. That’s why I want to remind motorists, parents and children of the following safety tips to keep in mind during Halloween and all year long.
Tips for Motorists
· Slow down. Watch for children walking on roads, medians, and curbs. Enter and exit driveways carefully.
· Be especially alert for children darting out from between parked vehicles and from behind bushes and shrubs. They’re excited – and they are not paying attention.
· Never drink and drive – tonight or any night. If you are partying, designate a driver.
Tips for Parents
· Adults should accompany children at all times and supervise their “trick or treat” activities.
· Teach children to “stop, look left-right-left, and listen” before they cross the street.
· Use a flashlight, and wear retro-reflective strips or patches on your clothing or costume to be more visible to motorists.
· Be certain that the mask does not obstruct vision or hearing.
· Ensure that costumes do not impede walking or driving ability.
· Take advantage of the “Trunk or Treat” events sponsored by local churches. These provide a safe, fun environment for children.
Tips for Pedestrians (children and adults)
· Before crossing a street, stop at the curb or edge of the road and look left, right, and left again to be sure no cars are coming. Continue to check for traffic while on the street.
· Walk – never run – from house to house or across the road.
· Cross the street only at intersections and crosswalks.
· When crossing at an intersection with a traffic light, be sure to watch for turning cars. Obey all pedestrian signals.
· Walk on sidewalks whenever possible. If there are no sidewalks, walk on the left side of the street facing traffic.
Fall Festival Creative Arts Contest
I know I’ve mentioned this event before, but it’s worth repeating! The Creative Arts Contest is open to all ages, and from the feedback I’ve received, participation among children and youth has shown a great amount of interest. Information has gone out to all the schools in Hopkins County, but the guidelines and categories are also available elsewhere. Our Extension Office has copies, as well as on-line at https://hopkins.agrilife.org (click on ‘publications’) or www.hopkinscountyfallfestival.com (click on forms).
As a reminder, the age divisions are: children (up to age 10), youth (ages 11-19), adults (ages 20-69), older Texans (ages 70 & above), and nursing home/assisted living. Entry categories are: art, bake show, clothing, creative crafts, decorated cakes, food preservation, handiwork, holiday/seasonal, horticulture, photography, quilts, and woodworking. Under the Nursing home/Assisted Living age division, categories are: holiday/seasonal, quilts, plastic art, handmade garments, accessories, needlework, leather craft, metal crafts, wood craft, art, and weaving.
Registration will take place Thursday, October 25, 4:30 to 6:00 p.m. and Friday, October 26, 7:30 to 9:30 a.m. at the Sulphur Springs High School Conference Center. Entry fee is only $1 per person for adults. Children and youth are free. Entries will be judged Friday, October 26 starting at 10:00 a.m. Following judging, the room will be open for public viewing until 5:00 p.m., and again on Saturday, October 27 from 9:00 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Pictures of Best of Show winners will be made at 1:30 Saturday, after which all items may be picked up.
“Rest when you’re tired. Take a drink of cold water when you’re thirsty. Call a friend when you’re lonely. Ask God to help when you feel overwhelmed.” Melodie Beattie