Tips to avoid a Halloween scare

Police and ICBC issue reminder to drivers, while SPCA provides some advice for calming your pet

On average about 10 people are injured in 50 crashes in the Southern Interior on Halloween night.

With trick-or-treaters flooding the streets Wednesday night, ICBC and RCMP are asking parents and drivers to use extra caution and plan ahead to keep children safe on Halloween.

Parents are asked to look over their children’s costumes, especially if they are a dark colour, to make sure they will be visible at night. One solution is to buy reflective tape to add to the outfit and children’s shoes or bags. Children should be reminded to not use their cellphone or listen to their iPod while walking around. Parents can help children going out by themselves to plan a route ahead of time, keeping them off the busy main roads.

ICBC reminds drivers that children are likely caught up in the excitement of Halloween and may forget the rules of the road. They suggest drivers slow down and be especially alert in residential areas. Children also may have limited visibility while wearing masks and costumes so don’t assume they see vehicles approaching. ICBC also suggests taking extra care when exiting and entering driveways and alleys as well as watching for trick-or-treaters when backing up.

The Penticton Fire Department is also warning the public about using fireworks. According to a City of Penticton bylaw, no person can manufacture, discharge, sell or dispose of any fireworks within the city, including your own property, unless they have a permit issued by the fire chief.

Jody Fotherby, operations assistant with the Penticton Fire Department, said each year fireworks cause serious injuries requiring emergency room treatment. She said fireworks can cause severe burns, with severe harm to the eyes, head and hands.

And don’t forget about your pets. All those weird loud noises as well as the little people traffic in and out of your home can be upsetting to your pet and can even lead to harm.

“Fireworks going off, a constantly ringing doorbell and the presence of costumed strangers can all cause animals to panic, putting both pets and people in danger,” said Lorie Chortyk, B.C. SPCA general manager of community relations.

When dogs and cats are frightened they are more likely to run away from their homes, jump out of open windows or dart into traffic. Stressed pets can also behave out of character — even scratching or biting people, said Chortyk.

It’s not only companion animals that are at risk.

“Frightened farm animals have even been known to run into barbed-wire fences or other obstructions. With a little planning, guardians can take steps to keep their all their animals safe on Halloween,” said Chortyk.

The B.C. SPCA said some pets do well left in a separate room with the radio or television on to mask the sound of fireworks and trick-or-treaters. Be sure to leave plenty of toys in the room for your pet so they don’t think they are being isolated for punishment. Make sure your pet is wearing identification in case they do run away.

Chortyk said it is natural to want to comfort your pet, but avoid saying things like “It’s OK,” or “Don’t be scared” in a soft or sympathetic voice. This will only reinforce your pet’s fearful behaviour.

Make sure you keep candy away from your pets, especially chocolate which is toxic to dogs and cats. Chortyk also suggests leaving your pet at home if you are going out trick-or-treating. The strange sights and sounds of Halloween can cause a normally friendly dog to bite if it feels scared or threatened.