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Make Trick-or-Treating safe
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Halloween this year is on Friday, Oct. 31. It is always a fun time that kids look forward to. Some precautions are also in order since most Halloween activities take place after dark, kids are excited and running around and there is usually increased motor vehicle traffic. Since Halloween falls on a Friday this time, it will likely be even busier than usual, barring inclement weather.

Organized events, like the one that will be held at Smyrna Park in Ceres starting at 6 p.m., are actually the safest places for kids because of overall security, lighting and adult supervision. This is not to say that kids should avoid going door-to-door in neighborhoods for fear of being attacked or run over by a car. It is all a matter of common sense and advance planning.

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 impede 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. It is best to leave without candy than to have a problem inside someone's home.

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.

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. Let's do what is necessary to ensure a safe and fun Halloween for everyone!