You’ve probably seen videos or reports from other media outlets showing Halloween costumes erupting in flames and warning you that your child could be the next burn victim while trick-or-treating if they’re not careful. I’ve seen those reports too and so I thought it’d be a great topic to cover locally. I thought I could talking to our own fire officials and have them set costumes on fire too next to a stopwatch to show which costume fabrics burn the fastest. But… I was wrong.
In my conversation over the phone with Asst. Fire Chief Doug Bleeker with Spokane County Fire District 9, he said he’d be happy to talk with me, but he would not be able to speak about the burn risk to kids on Halloween because there really is no added risk to kids getting burned in their costumes on Halloween vs. any other day of the year. After going over the facts with him, I could see that doing a story about costumes catching fire would really just be sensationalizing something that shouldn’t be feared.
According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, since 1980, there have been 16 cases in which kids under 15 suffered burns from their Halloween costumes catching fire. While 16 cases is a lot, when you spread that out over 36 years, that’s 0.44 incidents per year.
The biggest danger to your trick-or-treater is getting hit by a car. Last year, across the country, 4 trick-or-treaters were killed and 7 people were injured after getting hit by cars. In a report published by State Farm in 2012, they teamed up with a research expert and found that Halloween is the deadliest day of the year for child pedestrian accidents.
The report looked at 21 years of child pedestrian fatalities that occurred on Halloween and found 115 children had been killed. That’s an average of 5.5 fatalities ever year, which is more than double the average number of 2.6 fatalities for other days.
So we actually tested how visible your child is to a driver at night in their costume. We took four typical costumes made of various fabrics and colors and one of them was entirely black. We put the costumes on child-sized mannequins and then drove a car towards the mannequins at a speed of 5 MPH. Even driving at such a slow speed, it was surprising how hard it was to see the costumes, and the black costume wasn’t visible at all.
We then tested the best way to light your child using a glow stick, flashlight and reflective bands. The glow stick was definitely the least bright, but it’s one way to make your child visible that they will actually be excited about and have fun with. The flashlight and reflective bands were by far the brightest. Keep in mind that it may be challenging to get your child to hang on to a flashlight while they focus on filling their bucket with candy, so a headlamp might be a better option. As for the reflective bands, we found some on Amazon for less than ten dollars and they conveniently velcro around your child’s wrists and ankles.
Overall, be alert. Talk to your kids about street safety and have a happy and safe Halloween.
For more helpful Halloween safety tips, click here: https://www.safekids.org/content/halloween-safety