With Halloween around the corner, a pair of Washington, D.C.-based organizations that advocate for wireless and emergency communications are sending out this message to parents: Make sure your children have a cell phone on them while trick-or-treating.
Officials from the COMCARE Emergency Response Alliance, a nonprofit group, and 411 On Wireless, say cell phones will serve as a safeguard for kids who are injured or separated from fellow candy-seekers on Oct. 31.
According to David Aylward, the alliance’s director and founder, even kids with responsible parents, who ensure that their children are accompanied by an adult, may be at risk of an injury or dangerous situation on Halloween.
“In such cases, it is vitally important for a child to be able to contact a parent or 911 emergency personnel,” Aylward said. “That is where a prepaid or other cell phone can really make a difference.”
As reported by Reuters (News - Alert), the U.S. Census Bureau – in issuing the federal agency’s annual “Facts for Features in Observance of Halloween,” notes that 93 percent of U.S. households say their neighborhoods are safe, and 78 percent say there’s no place within a mile of their homes where they’d be afraid to walk along at night.
The bureau also notes that there were 36 million potential trick-or-treaters in the United States last year – down about 38,000 from a year earlier. The bureau defines those trick-or-treaters are children aged 5 to 13.
They’ll have plenty of opportunity, according to the federal agency, which reports that were 110.3 million occupied housing units – or potential candy stops – in the United States last year.
Yet not all the statistics point toward a happy Halloween.
For example, as Safe Kids Worldwide reports, children are more than twice as likely to be hit and killed by a vehicle on Halloween as on any other night of the year. The nonprofit agency says that children are typically excited on the candy holiday, and may move in unpredictable ways.
Between 4 and 10 p.m. on Halloween, there is a significant increase in falls, burn-related injuries and pedestrian injuries reported to emergency responders and authorities, according to COMCARE and 411 On Wireless.
The two agencies recommend that parents: get an inexpensive prepaid cell phone for their kids and pre-program it with important numbers; teach their children how to press 911 and follow-up on the call; and check in periodically at home.
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Michael Dinan is a contributing editor for TMCnet, covering news in the IP communications, call center and customer relationship management industries. To read more of Michael’s articles, please visit his columnist page.
Edited by Michael Dinan