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Sheriff's Corner: Halloween safety tips for parents, kids

Tom Burch

With Halloween coming up at the end of the month, we would like to focus on safe Halloween tips this month. Halloween is an exciting time of year for kids and to help ensure they have a safe holiday, we want to share some tips and safety information provided by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP).

For Parents and Kids

• Plan costumes that are bright and reflective. Make sure that shoes fit well and that costumes are short enough to prevent tripping, entanglement or contact with flame.

• Consider adding reflective tape or striping to costumes and trick-or-treat bags for greater visibility.

• Because masks can limit or block eyesight, consider non-toxic makeup and decorative hats as safer alternatives. Hats should fit properly to prevent them from sliding over eyes. Makeup should be tested ahead of time on a small patch of skin to ensure there are no unpleasant surprises on the big day.

• When shopping for costumes, wigs and accessories, look for and purchase those with a label clearly indicating they are flame resistant.

• If a sword, cane or stick is a part of your child's costume, make sure it is not sharp or long

• Review with children how to call 9-1-1 (or their local emergency number) if they ever have an emergency or become lost.

• A parent or responsible adult should always accompany young children on their neighborhood rounds.

• Obtain flashlights with fresh batteries for all children and their escorts.

• If your older children are going alone, plan and review a route that is acceptable to you. Agree on a specific time when they should return home.

• Only go to homes with a porch light on and never enter a home or car for a treat.

• Stay in a group and communicate where they will be going.

• Remain on well-lit streets and always use the sidewalk.

• If no sidewalk is available, walk at the far edge of the roadway facing traffic.

• Never cut across yards or use alleys.

• Only cross the street as a group in established crosswalks (as recognized by local custom). Never cross between parked cars or out driveways.

• Don't assume the right of way. Motorists may have trouble seeing trick-or-treaters. Just because one car stops, doesn't mean others will!

• Law enforcement authorities should be notified immediately of any suspicious or unlawful activity.

While preparing for the oncoming groups of trick or treaters, ensure that your home and yard is safe for them as well.

• To keep homes safe for visiting trick-or-treaters, parents should remove from the porch and front yard anything a child could trip over such as garden hoses, toys, bikes and lawn decorations.

• Parents should check outdoor lights and replace burned-out bulbs.

• Wet leaves or snow should be swept from sidewalks and steps. Pick up or remove any trip hazards on your driveway, lawn or sidewalk.

• Restrain pets so they do not inadvertently jump on or bite a trick-or-treater.

And lastly, while you are preparing your decorations, take into consideration some of the following ideas:

• Small children should never carve pumpkins. Children can draw a face with markers. Then parents can do the cutting.

• Consider using a flashlight or glow stick instead of a candle to light your pumpkin. If you do use a candle, a votive candle is safest.

• Candlelit pumpkins should be placed on a sturdy table, away from curtains and other flammable objects and not on a porch or any path where visitors may pass close by. They should never be left unattended.

We also want to take the opportunity to invite you to our "Halloween Trick or Treat with the Sheriff's Office" event held again this year, from 4:30-7 p.m. on Tuesday, Oct. 31, in the parking lot on the east side of the courthouse across from the Dairy Queen. Children will receive a treat bag with coloring books, safety tips and other items as well.

If you have specific questions that you would like answered in this column or in person, please feel free to contact me anytime using one of the following methods: email at tom.burch@co.cass.mn.us; phone at 218-547-1424 or 800-450-2677; or by mail or in person at the Cass County Sheriff's Office, 303 Minnesota Ave. W, P.O. Box No. 1119, Walker, MN, 56484.

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