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Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Safety tips for Halloween

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

A spooky graveyard will greet trick-or-treaters during this Halloween season at the Hemond family residence, located at 1420 N. Meridian St. Spooks and goblins can hit the streets in search of candy treats in Brazil from 6-8 p.m., during Oct. 30-31. Ivy Jackson Photo.
Soon ghosts and goblins of all ages will take part in Halloween fun. Everyone wants to have a good time, but once holiday merry-makers are caught up in the spirit of the season safety is sometimes overlooked.

“We want everyone to have a good time during the holiday,” Clay County Sheriff Mike Heaton said. “The main thing to remember is to be safe out there.”

By using simple common sense and practicing a few basic safety tips, families can have a great holiday.

• Halloween costume safety

Whether homemade or purchased, costumes, and shoes, should fit and be short enough to prevent tripping or getting entangled while walking. Costume wigs or accessories should be flame resistant.

Masks should not limit or block the vision of children. Parents should consider using non-toxic and hypoallergenic makeup or a decorative hat as a safe alternative.

Never use candles as part of a Halloween costume.

“Trick-or-treaters should stay in groups and carry a flashlight so they can be seen by motorists and other pedestrians during the night hours,” Heaton said.

Flashlights not only help children see where they are going, but also help motorists see the children. Reflective tape or striping should also be added to costumes and trick-or-treat bags for greater visibility.

Remind children to obey all traffic and pedestrian regulations.

• Trick-or-treating tips

Authorities recommend parents do not allow their children to go out trick-or-treating alone.

“Children, no matter their age, should not be out trick-or-treating alone,” Brazil City Police Chief Terry Harrison said. “I understand it can be tough to tell older children they need to stay with an adult, but they really just don’t understand the potential dangers that are out there in society.”

Children of all ages are roaming streets and knocking on the doors of strange homes in search of treats during Halloween. Harrison said there are people who take advantage of this time of year to harm children, which is why parents need to go trick-or-treating with their children, no matter how old they are.

Harrison said, “If a child doesn’t know where they are going or whose door they are going to knock on, how will anyone know where to find them if something goes wrong?”

Eating a good meal before attending parties or going trick-or-treating will discourage children from filling up on Halloween candy, which should always be checked by an adult before they are allowed to eat it.

Walking after dark in unfamiliar clothing can be stressful for even the most seasoned trick-or-treaters, which is why parents should consider not letting children go alone.

If parents or a guardian cannot go, remember there is safety in numbers. Trick-or-treaters of all ages should stay in a group.

Trick-or-treaters should walk slowly on well-lit sidewalks to familiar homes in their own neighborhood that have porch lights on.

Securing emergency identification information on a child (their name, address and phone number) discreetly within their costume or on a bracelet can help officials if they get lost.

Modern technology can help provide parents with peace of mind as their children go trick-or-treating.

It might be scary to think about, but officials agree that taking a digital picture of your child in their costume before they leave the house, either with a camera or a camera phone, will document what they look like in case of an emergency.

Also make sure children know their home phone number and how to properly contact local emergency personnel if they have an emergency or become lost. In case of an emergency, remind children that they may call 911 for help for free from any phone.

“Accept candy and treats only from people you know,” Heaton said. “It is usually common courtesy for people to trick-or-treat in areas you know, your own neighborhood.”

Harrison also offered a tip for residents handing out treats.

“Pass treats out on the front porch and don’t ask kids to come inside a home. I urge people to drop the candy in a child’s treat bag or bucket,” he said, adding that keeping a safe distance from the child will help them feel comfortable. “Children shouldn’t go inside a stranger’s home.”

Officials recommend that parents and children obey the official recommended trick-or-treating times in the communities they are in.

“Local cities have their own trick-or-treating times, but in the county there isn’t a set one,” Heaton said. “As a courtesy parents should try to not be out past 10 p.m., which is when most people start preparing to go to bed.”

• Mischief-makers

Officials believe Halloween is a good time for parents to talk to their children about family principles.

Known as a holiday for treats and pranks, parents can take advantage of Halloween as a way to discuss with their children what is considered appropriate behavior, the potential consequences for inappropriate behavior and stranger danger.

“I enjoy fun pranks and Halloween is a fun time for them. But law enforcement doesn’t want anyone to get hurt,” Harrison said. “If you want to prank someone, make it someone you know that will find it amusing. You don’t want to prank someone that will get upset.”

Harrison said pranks should be fun and never do any harm to an individual or damage their property.

“People, parents and children both, need to realize that if a prank causes damage, someone will have to make restitution for the cost and consequences. A parent could have to pay for the damages while the juvenile could face criminal mischief charges in court,” Harrison said. “Halloween should be a fun time, and we want people to have fun, but not at the expense of others.”

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