Between the leaves falling, colder temps, and the large numbers of pumpkins on display all around the area, one is reminded Halloween is quickly approaching. Synonymous with Halloween is the tradition of kids being out trick-or-treating. As always, with so many kids being out in the neighborhoods with their thoughts and focus being primarily on candy and having fun, it becomes more important for them to be safe in their activities. According to the National Safety Council, children are twice as likely to be hit by a car and killed on Halloween as on any other day. Following are some basic tips and guidelines for parents and supervisors of all trick-or-treaters, along with reminders for residents and motorists, all meant to provide a safe night for everyone.

Costumes

- Select bright, easy to see, appropriately sized costumes. If not already part of the costume, consider adding reflective tape.

- Avoid the use of wigs, beards, or masks that might interfere with a child’s vision or breathing. Opt for face paints or makeup, instead.

- Place a nametag on your child’s costume, along with your phone number in the event your child becomes lost or is found to be in need of help.

- If your child will be carrying some type of prop, like a sword or wand, make sure it is short and flexible to avoid injuries. The prop should be easy for the child to carry in addition to the treat container.

- Avoid the use of oversized shoes or high heels, both of which make moving about risky.

Trick-or-Treating

- Most children’s safety organizations and online sites recommend that all children 12 and under be supervised and accompanied at all times while trick-or-treating.

- For those children older than 12, it’s important for them to remain in well-lit, familiar areas and to always travel in groups.

- Parents of older children should know their planned routes and have an agreed upon time for returning home.

- Older kids should carry a cellphone if possible and only approach well-lit houses that are obvious sites for participating in trick-or-treating. Remind children not to enter the houses or vehicles of anyone they don’t know well. All children should know their home address and how to use 911. In case of an emergency, kids should try to always know the name of the street they are near.

- Remind kids to walk – not run - from house to house or back to the car transporting them. They should remain on the sidewalks, if possible, of well-lit streets, and to not take shortcuts through alleys or across lawns.

- Kids, if on roadways, should always walk against traffic to better see oncoming vehicles.

- For those kids out at dusk and later, consider having them carry flashlights with fresh batteries or glow sticks. Remind them that they should not assume motorists will see them.

- Encourage children to wait until arriving back home before consuming any treats. Inspect all packaging and discard any with holes or tears. Be very cautious of any home-made treats, especially if your kids have allergies.

Residents and Motorists

- For those planning to allow trick-or-treaters on their property, keep it well-lit and free of any obstacles that could cause one to trip. Extension cords running across lawns to decorations pose a big risk.

-Keep any pets from trick-or-treaters, no matter how safe you feel they are.

-If you find yourself driving during the late afternoon and evening hours, be extra vigilant in watching for children, especially in residential areas. Put the cell phone down and know that kids can and will be crossing streets, often unexpectedly. Be wary of children darting out into the street from between parked vehicles.

-Be aware that children may not hear or see your vehicle approaching them. Even in daylight, turn on your headlights and slow down. Be extra patient when driving and in the area of children.

-Cars carrying trick-or-treaters will be stopping and going often, with kids jumping in and out of the car with less focus on surrounding risks.

Halloween is a very exciting time for children. Please do your part as a parent, resident, or motorist to ensure their night is safe.

Deputy Steve Dascher serves with the Carver County Sheriff’s Office.

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