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Some tips for a safe Halloween

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Column by Jim Clark

By Jim Clark

People a lot smarter than me are flooding us with Halloween safety tips. Here are some we’ve picked up off the Internet.

1. If you are worried about the safety and security of your neighborhood, consider taking your children to an organized Trick-or-Treat or Halloween event at your local mall, school or church (or, here on the Corridor, to the Sheriff’s Office). Some towns and neighborhoods sponsor events and set a curfew. These events are often sponsored by the local police department, and officers can be seen patrolling the streets during Trick-or-Treat hours. Curfews are set to avoid strangers wandering the streets after hours.

2. Young children should always be accompanied by an adult; however, if your children are old enough to head out alone, be sure you know the route they are taking. They should check in with you every hour and you should establish a set time by which they should return home. Children should never be out alone, and should Trick-or-Treat with a group of friends or with a trusted adult. Only Trick-or-Treat at homes that are well-lit, and never enter a stranger’s home.

3. Review pedestrian safety rules with your children, including looking both ways before crossing the street, and not crossing between parked cars. Children should walk on sidewalks and not on the street. If your community does not have sidewalks, children should walk on the left side of the road, facing traffic. Small children should never cross the street without an adult. At busy intersections, wait at a cross walk.

4. Parents and children should carry flashlights and have their clothes and costumes trimmed with reflective tape. The Trick-or-Treat route you choose should be well-lit and well populated. Consider adding something unique to your child’s costume so that they can be easily spotted in large groups of people. For example, add a glow necklace or bracelet, or design a brightly-colored and unique treat bag.

5. With groups of ghosts and goblins flooding the streets, moving from house to house, drivers may be easily distracted. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the potential for automobile-related accidents with young pedestrians increases four times on Halloween. If you must drive during Trick-or-Treat hours, pay extra attention to cross walks, intersections and the sides of the road. Stay under the speed limit and do not pass any vehicles parked or stopped along the road. Children may be exiting these vehicles and may not be aware of oncoming traffic. If you are dropping off or picking up your child, pull off the road into a safe spot and use you hazard lights to alert other motorists.

6. When it comes to candy, your children may want to dig in immediately. It is important that you instruct them to not eat any candy until they are home and you have thoroughly inspected it. Any homemade snacks should be thrown away. Avoid giving treats that can be harmful to young children, including gum, snacks with peanuts, hard candy and any small toys. Additionally, some communities require residents to label the treats they distribute with their name and contact information. Check with your local neighborhood group for any special parameters you may need to follow this year.

7. When designing or choosing your Halloween costume, be sure all materials are fire retardant. If the costume is homemade, you can use a fire retardant spray to treat the fabric. Consider using face paint instead of a mask that could impair vision. If your child’s costume does include a mask, be sure it has large holes for the eyes and mouth. Any accessories, including knives and swords, should be made from cardboard or other flexible materials. Sharp toys can present dangers, including injuring your child if he or she trips and falls on it. Falls are the leading cause of unintentional injuries on Halloween.

8. Halloween is second to Christmas in popularity of yard and home decorations. When decorating your yard for Halloween, consider the path children may take to get to your door. Do not sit pumpkins or luminaries too close to the walkway. Be sure to leave enough room for groups children to get through. Make sure your home and yard are well lit, especially if you have a number of “spooky” lawn ornaments. Instead of using candles to light your jack-o-lanterns or luminaries, consider using battery-powered lights.

Through preparation, planning and a safety-conscious effort by parents and children alike, Trick-or-Treating can be a safe and fun event for you each year.