Halloween falls on a Monday this year, which means a long weekend of parties, festivals, haunted houses and parades preceding it. Halloween is considered one of the most fun-filled, celebratory holidays of the year, but it’s also one of the most dangerous. According to a study by the NSC (National Safety Council), 6,300 pedestrian deaths and 145,000 medically consulted injuries occurred on Halloween of 2014. And a side note for parents: On average, children are more than twice as likely to be hit by a car and killed on Halloween than other days of the year.

As if we didn’t have these statistics to worry about already, we now have another concern on our hands….CLOWNS!

What’s up with that?

The “creepy clown” phenomenon has put America and parents on edge after several not-so-happy clown encounters were reported within the last few months. It started in August when residents of a town in South Carolina claimed they saw people dressed as clowns luring children into the woods with money. Since then, clown threats and attacks have plagued the U.S. and have forced towns and cities across the nation to keep this all-too-familiar costume out of their Halloween agenda.

Towns like Hanover, Pennsylvania have banned clown costumes from certain parades and festivals, and some towns have even warned people of “fines” if they are caught wearing the attire on Halloween.  Notable companies, such as Target and McDonald’s, have even  participated in ensuring the overall safety and well-being of their consumers. Target has pulled several masks from their shelves and online store, while McDonald’s has cut down on public appearances of the long-beloved Ronald McDonald.

What are schools doing?

Schools have obviously taken action, too. Local school districts, such as Fort Bend ISD and HISD, have addressed their concern of clown threats to parents. A clown-themed threat on Facebook  was made toward Westside High school, prompting a letter from the principal, and some schools in Fort Bend are nixing clown costumes altogether from students’ Halloween parties this week. Still, child experts and authorities are advising parents to not “hype” up the situation so much and to go about their Halloween plans as usual. If anything, they say a real predator would try to blend in, and not draw attention to themselves.

Stay true to the general rules.

Aside from all the preventive clown measures taken, it’s important to remember the general safety tips needed to ensure a safe and happy Halloween 2016 :

  • Don’t drink and drive. ***Expect Uber and Lyft surge prices to be 3x or more the regular rate, but opt for this over potentially hurting someone or getting a DWI!
  • Remain on well-lit streets and always use a sidewalk
  • Dress children in reflective clothing: Lots of parents put pieces of duct tape on their children as ways to make them visible to drivers. Carrying a flashlight is always a good idea, too!
  • All costumes, wig and accessories should be fire-resistant
  • Consider non-toxic face makeup over masks that can limit or block eyesight
  • Teach children not to eat any treats until they return home
  • Teach children to never enter a strangers home
  • Review with children how to call 9-1-1
  • Remove garden hoses, toys and bikes from lawns to prevent trick-or-treaters from potentially tripping and falling
  • Restrain pets to prevent jumping or inadvertent bites

All is expected to run normally this holiday, but maybe, as extra precaution, we can consider taking the expression “no clowning around” a little more literally this year. Schechter, Shaffer & Harris, L.L.P., Accident & Injury Lawyers wishes you a safe and happy Halloween!!