Friday, October 30, 2015

So coincidental, it's spooky ...

You know, Halloween is right around the corner. And, if you are anything like me, you really dig the holiday.

You get to dress up, pass out candy, enjoy scary movies ... maybe even dance the Time Warp, if you are a Rocky Horror Picture Show fan.

With the daylight hours getting shorter and excited children headed to the streets, no doubt you have seen and heard media coverage about how dangerous a night Halloween is for pedestrians. Forget Dracula, Frankenstein's monster or ghosts, it's pedestrian accidents that are truly the scariest thing about Halloween.

In fact, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Information's Fatality Analysis Reporting System, pedestrians are twice as likely to die in accidents on Halloween than nearly any other day of the year. That astounding number sends a shiver up my spine - and the spines of public information officers for law enforcement, fire rescue and other organizations around the country. If you were going to put out information about pedestrian safety and get the media's attention, now would be a great time.

Halloween is also great this year because it falls the night before daylight saving time ends, meaning we fall back to standard time. Now, if you live in Arizona, Indiana or a number of other places, you won't be fiddling with your clock, but the rest of us poor saps will. Which is good, because it is also a great opportunity to remind folks that they should be checking - or, even better - changing the batteries in their smoke detectors.

Smoke detectors have significantly reduced the number of fatalities in house fires over the decades, but they only work if they have working batteries. While the time change may be a real pain in the rear, it does serve as a great annual reminder to do a small part to ensure the safety of your residents.

Oh, and do them one more favor. With the time change, irrigation systems may not get the message that they will be working out of synch with the summer time. So, maybe a notice to your utility customers for them to check their irrigation timers could help keep them out of hot water if you are under watering restrictions.

By just looking at the calendar, you can find many more of these spooky coincidences throughout the year to slip your message out to the media. They will consider them treats - not tricks - for their papers and newscasts.

Tom Iovino, Public Relations Strategist
Hillsborough County, Florida

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