Hayrides (and other Halloween horrors)

24 Oct

Safety expert Paul Van Gorkom. I assume. I never got around to asking for an actual mugshot.

What a great time of year.

With Halloween lurking just around the corner, there are haunted houses, hayrides, corn mazes and so many wonderful activities for kids.

These are are all great fun — if you want your child to die a horrible, gruesome death tha ends up on Fox News.

That’s right! Every one of those activities is a death trap, professional Nervous Nellie and safety expert Paul Van Gorkom tells me in a press release.

Well, that’s a relief. Halloween was getting quiet. Maybe too quiet.

For years, I’ve written about how poisoned Halloween candy is a myth. There was a case in 1974 where a father in Texas murdered his own son by poisoning Halloween candy. He apparently poisoned some other kids’ candy just to give himself an alibis. (Fortunately, none of the other kids ate the tainted treats.)

But that was just one isolated incident, and it only happened because the killer had a long-standing myth to exploit. By and large, Halloween candy is safe.


Hayrides, on the other hand, will kill you.

You can trust Van Gorkom, even though he has the perfect name for a mad scientist. He is the vice president of operations at Allied Barton Security Services, which provides “highly trained security personnel” (I’m thinking ninjas) to countless clients.

These are the kind of people who know how to survive hayrides unscathed and find their way out of corn mazes.

If you are foolish enough to tempt fate and go on a hayride, Van Gorkom pleads, be cautious when loading and unloading. Be sure the hayride is at a complete stop before doing either. If there are steps, they could be slippery.

These same safety precautions could apply to other moving vehicles as well. Personally, I am going to rethink the whole “tuck-and-roll” technique I taught me son for getting out of the car. It never occured to me to stop the car first.

Van Gorkom further stresses you should not walk in front of the hayride — or any moving tractor for that matter. I remember my grandfather Murray “Peg Leg” Henderson telling me the same thing.

Lest you mock Van Gorkom’s concerns, Fox News reports four people were hospitalized and 40 others injured in a hayride accident on Shaw Island in Washington state just last August.

A flatbed trailer carrying about 50 people collided with the tractor that was pulling it, dumping the passengers on the road in what was described as a “horrible but really cool freak accident.”

(OK, so that was my description.)

The driver of the trailer was going down a steep grade, which brings up a tip Van Gorkom overlooked. Don’t go on a hayride driven by an idiot.


Speaking of idiots, if you happen to be one yourself, stay out of corn mazes. Of course, that’s wasted advice. If you’re an idiot, you’re going to go inside anyway.

Van Gorkom suggests bringing a flashlight. This can also come in handy in locating your own butt (provided you also use both hands). He adds you should bring cell phones and stick with your fellow idiots.

That way, people will be able to laugh at you even more when you finally make your way out.

But seriously, folks, could anyone really get lost in a corn maze to the point where it becomes an emergency?

Cue Fox News.

Authorities in Danvers, Mass., tell Fox a family called 911 when they got lost in a seven-acre corn maze — taking advantage of the police department’s motto that says, “We Want To Be Bothered.” The family didn’t realize they were 25 feet away from the street.


Van Gorkom says haunted houses can also pose safety hazards. For instance, he says, you could be plagued by flies.

Or is that “The Amityville Horror”?

Swarms of flies or not, Van Gorkom says be careful. The floors could be slippery. Then again, that could just be the blood. Whatever. Don’t run and down the stairs, he says. This is fine in your own house where you no doubt have carpeting made out of bubble wrap, but a major no-no in a haunted house.

You should also carry a flashlight, he says, so one of the things that goes bump in the night isn’t your skull.

And that, people, is the kind of wisdom that propels a man into upper managment in a company that provides trained ninjas.

My favorite piece of advice? “Avoid smoking while in the maze as dry corn stalk could easily catch fire.”

Yes, that would be a problem. However, I would love  to see some arial footage of that.

Fox News?


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