Halloween Safety Scary Stories
Halloween is meant to be scary, if you ask me. But there’s a real difference between being scared by a movie or haunted house, and being scared for your own safety. Fortunately, lots of the things that scare us around Halloween can be made less terrifying with a few facts. Here we go!
Myth: Candy gets poisoned every year, with creeps hiding rat poison, lye, needles, and razor blades in passed-out treats.
Fact: This is one of the most famous Halloween myths. The truth behind it is incredibly rare, and it seems like the paranoia about it mostly just gives people ideas. In 1964, a Long Island housewife started passing out dog biscuits and steel wool to children she felt were too old to be trick-or-treating. In the mid-1970s, the New York Times posted an article warning people about the dangers of candy tampering, which seemed to inspire a few people. Most of the cases of candy tampering ever recorded were done by someone the child in question knew, a relative or family “friend.” Frequently, cases of child poisoning that take place around Halloween are misreported in the news as a stranger poisoning a child, but this is typically unfounded. As with most child-related fears we have, stranger danger is not the primary threat. Still, it can’t hurt to make sure your candy is wrapped before you eat it, for freshness and sanitary reasons rather than poisoning.
Myth: Certain times of year, like the full moon and Halloween, make people act crazy!
Fact: You all know there are few things I love more than a good debunking, but this one seems to have some truth to it! That chart is from a 1984 study that researched behavior in rural, urban and industrial areas and found that criminal behavior increases during the time of the full moon. Now, it’s true that correlation isn’t causation, and the two facts could be unrelated — many scientists believe that, as well. Psychiatrist Glenn Wilson called this effect the “human tidal wave,” suggesting that the pull of the moon at its fullest affects the water in our bodies, disrupting our processes just enough that we feel and act a little crazy. It’s worth noting that the 1984 study is British in origin — Werewolves of London, perhaps?
Myth: Scary Halloween decorations go wrong, injuring or killing those involved.
Fact: If you want something to be scared of on Halloween, this one is it. There are unfortunately several reports of people trying to create that perfect haunted house effect, only to have it backfire and end tragically. In 1990, separate incidents in Chicago and Los Angeles resulted in the deaths of two teenagers who attempted to create a hangman effect for their haunted house. Both deaths were ruled accidents rather than suicides, as they were deliberate attempts to create a gallows effect and had been intended to be safe. These accidents crop up even more frequently than actual poisoned candy cases, the most recent accidental death in this fashion occurring just last month. If you’re after a hangman’s effect this year, stick to a dummy rather than going DIY with it — you don’t want to be stuck haunting your own house.
Health editor, Tini Howard is a writer, aerialist and foodie from the East Coast.