Safety office provides tips for Halloween and beyond

  • Published
  • By Lt. Col. James Thompson
  • 52nd Fighter Wing Chief of Safety
It's cold. Football is on TV, the baseball World Series is upon us, the leaves are changing, and it's getting cold and dark. Trick-or-treaters of all types will appear as pumpkins, jack-o-lanterns, ghosts, ghouls, goblins, witches, and, of course, the well-known Batman, Supergirl, Transformers, and Star Wars heroes and heroines.

Trick-or-treating is scheduled for 6-8 p.m. Oct. 31 on Spangdahlem Air Base and Bitburg Annex; and, of course, there are all kinds of Halloween parties provided by Services. Hopefully, this holiday represents good memories for everyone, and we would like to help make that so for our next generation of warriors.

The 726th Air Mobility Squadron has made their metal detector available from 5:30-8 p.m. Oct. 31 at the Air Mobility Command terminal to ensure your child's candy is, at the least, metal free. The 52nd Security Forces Squadron will also be out in force that evening to help ensure the safety of our Saber youth.

Below are some Halloween safety statistics and tips below to help everyone enjoy the evening:
A 1996 Center for Disease Control and Prevention Halloween Safety study showed in 1995, pedestrian deaths accounted for 15 percent of all motor-vehicle-related deaths sustained by children 5-14 years old in the U.S. From 1975-1996, the CDC discovered 89 deaths occurred between 4 and 10 p.m. Oct. 31, compared to an average of 24 every other night. That means it is four times more likely to have traffic-related pedestrian accidents on Halloween for that age group.

In the entire Air Force, from Oct. 29 to Nov. 2 during the last six years, there was only one Class-A Mishap - meaning a death, aircraft loss or damage totaling more than $1 million - on Halloween. That was a motorcycle fatality in 2008. Oct. 31 was actually never the worst day for mishaps, but Nov. 1-2 hold those honors. That means we must not only be vigilant with safety tips for our youth, but also ourselves as we go back to work after Halloween weekend. Take the extra time to get things done safely Monday.

These Halloween statistics are not surprising, so to aid in reducing the number of incidents around the holiday, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission provided the following Halloween safety advice:

· When purchasing costumes, masks, beards and wigs, look for flame-resistant fabrics such as nylon or polyester, or look for the label "Flame Resistant." Flame-resistant fabrics will resist burning and should extinguish quickly. To minimize the risk of contact with candles and other fire sources, avoid costumes made with flimsy materials and outfits with big, baggy sleeves or billowing skirts.
· Purchase or make costumes that are light, bright and clearly visible to motorists.
· For greater visibility during dusk and darkness, decorate or trim costumes with reflective tape that will glow in the beam of a car's headlights. Bags or sacks also should be light colored or decorated with reflective tape.
· Children should carry flashlights to see and be seen.
· Costumes should fit well and not drag on the ground so children don't trip and fall.
· Children should wear well-fitting, sturdy shoes. Oversized shoes or high heels are not a good idea.
· Tie hats and scarves securely to prevent them from slipping over children's eyes and obstructing vision.
· If your child wears a mask, make sure it fits securely, provides adequate ventilation, and has eye holes large enough to allow full vision.
· Swords, knives and similar costume accessories should be made of soft, flexible material. 


· Advise children not to eat any treats before an adult has examined them carefully for evidence of tampering.
· Carefully examine any toys or novelty items received by trick-or-treaters who are under three years old. Do not allow young children to have any items that are small enough to present a choking hazard or that have small parts or components that could separate during use and present a choking hazard. 

· Keep candles and jack-o-lanterns away from landings and doorsteps where costumes could brush against the flame.
· Remove obstacles from lawns, steps and porches when expecting trick-or-treaters.
· Keep candles and jack-o-lanterns away from curtains, decorations and other combustibles that could be ignited while indoors. Do not leave burning candles unattended.
· Indoors or outside, use only lights that have been tested for safety by a recognized testing laboratory. Check each set of lights, new or old, for broken or cracked sockets, frayed or bare wires, or loose connections. Discard damaged sets.
· Don't overload extension cords.

After Halloween is over, the 52nd Fighter Wing Safety Office and 52nd FW Public Affairs Office have joined with ADAC and the Army and Air Force Exchange Service to bring you "Winter Days."

From 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Nov. 2 and 15 on the Saber Driving Course, ADAC will be offering free winter vehicle checks, including checking tires, brake fluid, lights, batteries, antifreeze conditions, and a child safety seat check for proper installation. ADAC has offered this service free of charge to Sabers, so please take advantage of this service. AAFES will present door prizes and have safety equipment available for purchase. For those who haven't had a chance to yet, we'll have the Saber Driving Vehicles out and running for drivers to experience what it's like to spin out and what to do in case of a slide before actually driving on ice, frost or snow - conditions that are just around the corner.