Caution can help make Halloween sweet
by Christopher Kratzer
Air University Public Affairs
10/28/2011 - MAXWELL AIR FORCE BASE, Ala. -- Halloween is nearly here. As pumpkins are carved and costumes are stitched, it's important to think about the safety of children on base. On Halloween night, pedestrian fatalities involving children are about four and a half times the levels of other nights of the year, according to a study conducted by the University of Michigan.
Because of this, parents must be vigilant in protecting their children, according to Tech Sgt. Jeremiah Carpenter, the noncommissioned officer in charge of ground safety at Maxwell.
"Let's just be honest. There are people out there that have bad intentions. Anytime there are crowds of people and confusion, the potential is there for danger," he said.
The danger doesn't end in a stranger's front yard, either.
"Another area that has potential for accidents is in the traffic environment. Many trick-or-treaters will be in dark clothing, have a mask on that reduces vision, and may be crossing streets when it is dark," Carpenter said. "Let's never forget that adults sometimes use bad judgment in regards to speed and alcohol. Compounding the above creates a recipe for disaster."
Even though there are risks, parents can ensure their kids have a fun and safe Halloween night by being smart.
"First and foremost, parents should have accountability of their children at all times. I have taken my kids trick-or-treating in Prattville the last few years, and there are a lot of children out there," he said. "To add to that, everyone has costumes on, and it's dark. Kids are running from house to house in search of candy. The excitement makes children forget about basic safety needs. It's very easy to lose sight of your children."
Carpenter also offered a few other tips to keep kids safe.
"Parents should remind their children to never enter a stranger's home to get candy, and if your child is old enough to go out alone, make sure you know where your child will be and when they will return," he said. "Don't allow your children to eat candy until a parent has inspected it."
If parents stay diligent to keep their kids safe, children can focus on the important parts of Halloween, like candy, says Carpenter.
"Make your child's Halloween a memorable night. Memories last a lifetime! If you are taking your kids out for the night, dress up as well. Mom and Dad should get involved and get into Halloween as much as the kids do!"
· Plan a route ahead of time.
· Trick-or-treat in familiar neighborhoods.
· Carry a flashlight with fresh batteries after dark.
· Wear easy-to-read identification.
· Always trick-or-treat in groups, accompanied by an adult.
· Follow a curfew and take a watch with a backlight.
· Stay on the sidewalks and out of the streets. Cross only at intersections and designated crosswalks.
· Walk. No running.
· Don't trample through flower beds and gardens.
· Watch out for open flames in Jack-o-Lanterns.
· Walk with head up and be aware of surroundings.
· Only visit well-lit houses. Don't stop at dark houses.
· Don't enter any strangers' houses.
· Carry a spare Halloween bag in case the original bag breaks or fills up.
· Don't approach unfamiliar pets and animals.
· Don't cut across yards, and stay out of backyards.
· Follow traffic signals, and don't jaywalk.
· Always watch for cars backing up or turning.
· Review the "stop, drop and roll" procedure in case the costume catches fire.
· Never accept rides from strangers.
· Respect other people and their property..
· Be polite, and say "thank you."
· Don't eat any candy until it's inspected under bright lights for tampering.
· Avoid homemade candy or candy with loose, missing or punctured wrapping.
· Small children should not be allowed hard candy.. It may cause them to choke.
· Report any suspicious or criminal activity to an adult or the police.
· Consider having a party instead of trick-or-treating.
· Children should always go out trick-or-treating with a responsible adult or in a group.
· Keep costumes short enough to prevent tripping and falling.
· Children should wear light colors, put reflective tape on their costumes for visibility,.
· It is recommended to use makeup instead of masks. Masks can be hot, uncomfortable and can obstruct vision.