Well folks, another Halloween is upon us. By now, you no doubt have heard numerous times over all of the various bits of safety advice people give out talking about how to be safe while going out Trick-or-Treating. Well, I have something to add to this.
A lot of it is, indeed, good advice.
For example, let’s consider some of the advice concerning how to go out-and-about at night. “Always wear bright colors, especially something reflective.” “Always use the sidewalk whenever possible and stay out of the road.” “If you must walk near the road, walk so that you’re facing oncoming traffic and thus can see any vehicles.”
Is this actually important?
As I’ve mentioned before, I got my start in the newspaper industry by delivering the newspapers themselves at night. Because of this, I’ve seen – and almost didn’t see - quite a few situations that very nearly ended badly due to people not following these rules. For example, one night I was going about my regular route when I turned off of a main highway and on to a residential road. As soon as I completed the turn, I hit the brakes and came to a dead stop.
In the road in front of me were two young men walking side-by-side. Both young men were in the middle of the lane, and both were facing away from the direction of oncoming traffic. One of the two was dressed completely in dark clothing. Fortunately for everyone, the other young man was wearing shorts made out of a bright red reflective material. My headlights caught the material and reflected the light back at me, letting me know that someone or something was in the lane. I had not seen these young men when I checked for traffic before turning off the highway, and apparently they had not heard my car (despite the engine being noisy). I was only aware of their presence due to the one young man wearing reflective clothing, and they were not aware of me until they suddenly realized that there was light flooding the area around them.
Or we have the bits of advice about one’s treats, such as “Never eat unwrapped candy” and “Always have your parents check your candy before you eat it.” Do I seriously think that there is a cabal of people out there who make it their goal to hurt people as some anti-Halloween tracts have argued?
I agree with the advice from personal experience.
I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve opened up a brand-new bag of candy, only to find individual pieces that were not wrapped properly, if they were wrapped at all. This wrapping guarantees that the candy was protected from the time it was produced until the time the bag was opened. No wrapper means no assurance that it wasn’t somehow contaminated even at the factory.
And checking candy? I remember one of my brothers buying a brand-new bag of gummi bears from a store one day. When he opened the bag up, he found wood splinters inside some of the bears. The only explanation we could think of was that something broke apart at the factory, leading to wood splinters making it into the product and quality control failing to notice this before allowing the product to ship. Again – what happened had to have happened at the factory, as the bag was untouched and brand new.
It might seem overwhelming to have to constantly keep hearing such admonitions repeatedly, but folks, we’re being told this for a reason. A little bit of care aforethought can save a lot of grief later on.