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RCMP & Red Cross share Hallowe’en safety tips

The roots of Hallowe’en can be traced back to the Celtics, but it’s more important than ever to stay safe. – Thirdman via Pexels

By Jaymie White Local Journalism Initiative Reporter WEST COAST — The spookiest time of the year is right around the corner again, with ghosts, skeletons and pumpkins decorating yards, and children and adults flocking to the local stores to pick out their perfect costume for Hallowe’en. The origins of this spook-tacular holiday originate with the Celtic festival of Samhain. Over 2,000 years ago the Celts celebrated their new year on Nov. 1, and so the day before, Oct. 31, marked the end of summer and the harvest, and the beginning of the dark, cold winter months. This time of year was typically associated with human death and the Celts believed that on the night before their new year, the veil between the worlds of the living and the dead was at its thinnest. That was always the night when they celebrated Samhain, when it was believed that the ghosts of the dead returned to Earth and people would light bonfires and wear costumes to ward off those ghosts. In the eighth century, Pope Gregory III designated Nov. 1 as a time to honor all saints and eventually, All Saints Day incorporated some of the older traditions of Samhain. The evening before became known as ‘All Hallows Eve’, and finally just ‘Hallowe’en’. Since then, Hallowe’en has become a holiday loved by many where trick-or-treating, carving pumpkins, wearing costumes, frequenting haunted houses, and eating treats have become tradition, and Canada even has the world’s largest Hallowe’en parade, which takes place in Montreal. The 2021 Census of Agriculture stated that there are 11,000+ acres of pumpkin patches in Canada. “Children dressed up as pirates, ghosts, clowns and other characters to take to the streets by the thousands to collect their favourite candies. The little ones are always proud to show off their costume! In fact, the number of children of prime trick-or-treating age (5 to 14 years) in Canada was estimated at 4,135,513 on July 1, 2021,” according to Statistics Canada. As much fun as Hallowe’en might be, it’s important to recognize the dangers that could be present and to take necessary precautions. According to the RCMP, during Hallowe’en certain dangers can become more prevalent. “The likelihood of a pedestrian crash on Hallowe’en is increased due to heavy foot traffic of excited children and some costumes that may be difficult to see. Thankfully, we do not see an increase in those instances on Hallowe’en. Motorists are reminded to be extra cautious on Hallowe’en and to watch out for treaters as they are driving, to travel with reduced speeds and to drive safe and sober.” On Hallowe’en 2022, the RCMP listed safety tips for a safe and enjoyable holiday, and this year’s list is much the same.

Look the part

  1. Be visible. Wear a light/bright colored costume. Add reflective tape or arm bands to increase visibility.

  2. Ensure your costume is made of flame-retardant material.

  3. Make sure your costume fits well to avoid ghostly falls or stumbles.

  4. Use flashlights and glow sticks; they are great accessories for any costume and can keep kids visible to motorists.

Be street smart

  1. Parents/guardians should help plan and be aware of the route that their children will travel for trick-or-treating.

  2. Children should be able to recognize places where they can get help: police station, fire station or any other well-known public place.

  3. Stay on the sidewalks. If there is no sidewalk, walk on the left-hand side of the street facing traffic.

  4. Never enter a house. Only accept treats at the front door.

Take extra care while driving

  1. Slow down and be extra cautious. Expect that trick-or-treaters may forget to look both ways before rushing across the street or a driveway in their search for treats.

  2. Watch for people using crosswalks.

  3. Do not drive impaired or while distracted.

  4. Ensure that your costume does not interfere with the safe operation of your motor vehicle. Costumes should not restrict movement, impede vision or prevent anyone in the vehicle from properly applying their seat belt.

“RCMP NL will be on patrol to watch out for all of the little ghosts and goblins, as well as those driving while impaired or in a manner that puts anyone else at risk. Do your part to ensure this Hallowe’en is enjoyable for all!” In Nov. 2022, the RCMP also made a startling report regarding a pin found in a chocolate bar in Lewisporte. As a result of this discovery, the RCMP urged all parents to check any Hallowe’en treats received to ensure a similar situation doesn’t happen to another family. “On Monday afternoon, police received a call from Lewisporte Academy informing them of the incident. A student bit into a chocolate bar and discovered a small metal pin inside. The pin stuck into the child’s mouth and was safely removed. “While it is not believed that the pin was embedded into the chocolate bar during the manufacturing process, contact was made with the manufacturer to investigate all possibilities. “Parents are encouraged to thoroughly inspect all Hallowe’en treats and to report any suspicious findings to their local police detachment.” This incident appeared to be the only one of its kind and the RCMP doesn’t often receive reports of this nature according to an RCMP spokesperson. “This sort of thing is not common and aside from this, I don’t believe there were any other reports.” The Canadian Red Cross also has its own list of Hallowe’en safety tips.

  1. Use face paint rather than masks or things that will cover the eyes.

  2. Explain to children that calls should be made along one side of the street first and then the other, and that it’s best to cross the street only at intersections or crosswalks.

  3. Trick or Treaters should travel in groups of four or five. Young children should be accompanied by an adult.

  4. Visit homes that have the porch light on.

  5. Remind children not to eat their treats and goodies until they are examined by an adult at home. And candy should not be eaten if the package is already opened. Small, hard pieces of candy are a choking hazard for young children.

  6. Set agreed-to boundaries with your children. Explain the importance of staying within them and arriving home on time.

However you choose to celebrate, stay safe this Hallowe’en!

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