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Two Maryland state agencies making Halloween safe for trick-or-treaters

October 26, 2012|By DAN DEARTH | dan.dearth@herald-mail.com

Two Maryland state agencies are joining forces to make Halloween safe this year for little ghosts and goblins.

For the 18th year, the Maryland State Highway Administration is offering its Vests for Visibility Program, which lends reflective vests to children and their chaperones during trick-or-treat.

“The Maryland State Highway Administration’s message is always see and be seen,” SHA spokeswoman Lora Rakowski said. “Thousands of little feet will be converging on the street at the same time at rush hour (this Halloween) ... Visibility is such an important part of pedestrian safety — especially during dark hours.”

The vests can be picked up at any of the SHA’s participating maintenance shops from Monday to Wednesday between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m.

The vests have to be returned by Nov. 9.

In addition, the Maryland State Fire Marshal’s Office is offering safety tips to prevent accidental fires.

Bruce D. Bouch, a spokesman for the state fire marshal’s office, said people should avoid buying or making flammable costumes made of petroleum based materials, such as nylon, polyester and plastics.

He said parents also should make sure that their little trick-or-treaters have costumes that fit.

“They want to stay away from anything that is extremely long that could cause a trip hazard or block your vision,” he said.

Bouch said people planning a party also should make sure they don’t plug too many cords into the same electric socket to avoid causing a fire.

“The idea is to have fun, but all it takes is one mistake,” he said.

Bouch said people shouldn’t purchase electrical items unless they are stamped “UL,” which is the abbreviation for Underwriters Laboratories, a safety consulting and certification company based in Northbrook, Ill.

To obtain a reflective vest from the Maryland State Highway Administration in Washington County, go to the maintenance shop at 18320 Col. Henry K. Douglas Drive south of Hagerstown. The telephone number is 301-791-4730.

Halloween safety tips

The Maryland State Fire Marshal’s Office said it encourages people to observe the following safety tips:

  • Pick costumes that are bright and reflective. Make sure costumes are short enough to prevent tripping and ensure masks don’t block vision.
  • Consider adding reflective tape to costumes and trick-or-treat bags for greater visibility.
  • Purchase only costumes, wigs and props labeled flame-resistant or flame-retardant.
  • When creating a costume, choose materials that will not easily ignite if it comes in contact with heat or flame.
  • Provide children with flashlights to carry for lighting or as part of their costume.
  • Use flashlights or glow sticks as alternatives to candles or incandescent lights when decorating walkways or yards. They are much safer for trick-or-treaters whose costumes may brush against the decoration.
  • Remember to keep exits clear of decorations ensuring nothing blocks escape routes from the home.
  • Instruct children to stay away from open flames or other heat sources. Be sure children know how to stop, drop and roll in the event their clothing catches on fire. (Stop immediately, drop to the ground, covering your face with your hands, roll over and over to extinguish the flames).
  • Instruct children who are attending parties at others’ homes to locate the exits and plan how they would get out if an emergency would occur.
  • Do not overload electrical outlets and extension cords. Excessive use of extension cords may cause overheating and also become trip hazards.
  • Always supervise children as they go trick-or-treating.
  • If you are walking with pets, consider using a leash with reflective material attached.
  • When decorating inside the home, consider using battery operated candles instead of burning regular candles to help eliminate the potential of a fire occurring.
  • Replace frayed, cracked or otherwise damaged electrical cords.
  • Limit use of extension cords and don’t overload electrical circuits.

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