The Grapevine

Why Halloween Night Could Be Dangerous, Possibly Deadly

Trick-or-treat is no excuse to let your guard down on the streets — take it from a new study from the University of British Columbia (UBC), Canada. After analyzing four decades of traffic data from the United States, researchers found a noticeable spike in pedestrian fatalities during Halloween night compared to other dates of the year.

"Collecting 'trick-or-treat' candy from neighbors has been a Halloween tradition among children for over a century, and adult Halloween parties have become increasingly popular in bars and on campuses across North America," said lead researcher Dr. John Staples, a clinical assistant professor in the UBC faculty of medicine.

The research team wanted to know whether the excitement of the celebration combined with dark costumes and alcohol could indicate safety risks for pedestrians. Indeed, Halloween night was found to be more dangerous than usual, according to the findings.

When compared to other dates, the night appears to carry a 43 percent increased likelihood of pedestrian deaths. When looking at various age groups, children between the ages of 4 to 8 were at highest risk.

"That age group is maybe particularly excited about Halloween and maybe in the midst of that excitement loses track of the very real danger that vehicles pose," Staples said. "They may be unaware that drivers aren't able to see them."

Luckily, there are some simple ways to reduce the safety risk. Carrying a source of illumination such as a glow stick or a flashlight can help people see the path clearly and also indicate their presence to drivers. If you are wearing a mask, make sure you are still able to see clearly.

While on the subject of Halloween and risky behavior, one must also be careful about wearing certain accessories as a part of their costume. Decorative contact lenses, for example, could be extremely dangerous to eye health.

"If you can walk in off the street, or log on to a website and buy them without verification of your prescription, the lenses are not being sold legally," said Dr. Glenda Secor, past chair of the American Optometric Association's contact lens and cornea section. "Even though these are non-corrective lenses, they still pose the same potential health and safety risks as other contact lenses."

There have been several instances where people have worn low-quality contact lenses which led to ulcers, bacterial infections, and allergic reactions. In more serious cases, people have suffered significant damage such as the irreversible loss of vision. 

The Food and Drug Administration also emphasizes that contact lenses, even as a part of a costume, should not be purchased without a prescription. So make sure to avoid buying them from street vendors, flea markets, unauthorized websites on the internet, and other sources that do not require a prescription.

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