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Making Halloween safe as possible

POSTED October 26, 2011 8:09 a.m.
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Halloween falls on Monday. It is sure to be a fun time with festive atmosphere, costumes, candy and all the interesting Halloween displays. But with all the fun and entertainment, there are some definite dangers. Kids' exuberance can leave them prone to not minding traffic at a time when there generally is more of it. Sometimes older kids prey on the youngsters, there can be instances of vandalism, candy can be tampered with and other threats can present themselves. All of these problems can be avoided with some planning and awareness.

It is best for trick-or-treaters to wear costumes that are visible with reflective panels. Masks are fun props, but if used, they should not impair the child's vision in any way. Many masks affect the wearer's peripheral vision, which makes them more prone to traffic incidents when crossing streets. Motorists, especially, should be on the alert to enthusiastic kids running into the street from between parked cars and expect other safety mistakes. The kids should stay on sidewalks, cross streets only at intersections, carry flashlights and wear strobes of some kind. Anything that helps increase their visibility is highly desirable and it is wise for the kids to travel in groups with one or more adults present. Adults should carry cell phones for emergencies, and families should have clearly established "return home" times for the trick-or-treaters.

Sometimes, older kids will confront younger ones to take their candy. This can be avoided with adult presence and by staying in well-lit neighborhoods where everyone is keeping an eye out for each other. Kids should not enter strangers' homes.

All candy should be inspected before consumption. Any items that appear to have been tampered with should be immediately discarded. Signs of re-wrapped candies, packages with any size holes, etc. are not worth taking a risk for. I also discourage people from handing out baked goods or other homemade foods, since most recipients will not consume them anyway.

A safe alternative to traditional trick-or-treating is attending the city of Ceres annual Halloween Festival. It will be at the Ceres Community Center, located at 2701 Fourth Street, from 6 p.m. until 8 p.m. on Oct. 31. There will be an assortment of free Halloween activities for children of all ages to include a petting zoo, costume contest, crafts, face painting, tram rides to the Whitmore Mansion and many more.

The police, along with uniformed volunteers, explorer scouts and other "eyes and ears" will have a substantially large presence during the Halloween evening. The safety of our kids and community is entirely in our collective hands.
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