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Halloween safety depends on us all
Ceres Director of Public Safety Art deWerk

Halloween falls on Thursday, and there is no rain in the forecast (at least at the time of this writing). The daytime temperature will be mild and the low at night is expected to be 47 degrees. Halloween will be sure to be a fun time with a festive atmosphere, costumes, candy and all of the interesting Halloween decorations.

With all the fun and entertainment, there are also some dangers that can accompany the festivities. Children can get very excited with all of the Halloween fun, causing them to not pay attention to traffic, which is one of the biggest threats they face. Sometimes kids will bully others, harass them, or steal their candy. The threat of candy that has been tampered with exists, but from what I have read in researching for this column indicates the threat is minimal, if not non-existent. Nevertheless, it is prudent to be cautious anyway, so check for any items that appear to have been tampered with. I also discourage people from handing out baked goods or other homemade foods, since most recipients will not consume them anyway.

It is best for trick-or-treaters to wear costumes that are light-colored and have 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 be alert to pedestrian safety mistakes; the best thing to do is drive slowly and to expect the unexpected. 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 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.

To avoid situations where older kids target younger ones, it is recommended that adults stay with them and they stay in well-lit neighborhoods where everyone is keeping an eye out for each other. Kids should not enter strangers' homes. It is best to leave without candy than to have a problem inside someone's home.

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 Thursday, 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, police explorers and other "eyes and ears" will have a substantially large presence during the Halloween evening. The safety of our children and community is entirely in our collective hands. Please do what is necessary to ensure a safe and fun Halloween for everyone. Have a great time!