It's supposed to be one of the most fun times of the year for children, a chance to dress up as one of their favorite monsters or cartoon characters and collect bags overflowing with candy.
But Halloween all too often becomes a nightmare that ends with real-life tragedy. Officials are urging parents to be extra careful in not only monitoring what their children eat and the costumes they wear, but also to make sure they're safe while walking through neighborhoods.
But Halloween is the deadliest day of the year for child pedestrian accidents, according to a State Farm news release. A total of 115 child pedestrian deaths occurred nationwide on Halloween over the past 21 years.
That's an average of 5.5 fatalities each year on Oct. 31, more than double the average number of 2.6 fatalities on other days, the news release said. Most of those killed were children ages 12 to 15.
Fire safety should also be a primary concern, and on Thursday Kern County firefighters put on a demonstration showing just how quickly a costume can turn into a ball of flame.
"We want to make sure as kids are out they're safe and come home safe," Fire Capt. Eric Coughran said.
Coughran placed a homemade cotton ghost costume on the side of a burn building at fire department headquarters and then set it aflame. Within seconds flames swooped across the cloth, turning the once white costume black and leaving it a pile of ashes on the ground.
Coughran then set a flame to a store-bought fire retardant costume. The fire was slow to spread, with little pieces of the costume dripping off instead of the entire thing becoming engulfed in fire.
Decorations were next. Coughran set a smaller straw-filled decoration aflame, followed by a larger scarecrow-type outdoor decoration which quickly lost its flannel shirt and overalls to the flames.
Coughran's 3-year-old daughter -- dressed in a pink cowgirl outfit -- was startled enough by the burning costumes that she warned her father about the scarecrow.
"No daddy, don't set it on fire!," Eden Coughran yelled.
Coughran reassured his daughter everything would be all right, and with the precautions taken at the demonstration it was. The point of the demonstration was that if a decoration went up in flames inside a home, the outcome could be a lot worse.