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Area officials emphasize safety this Halloween

By Staff | Oct 29, 2011

With Halloween fast approaching, local authorities are asking residents to keep in mind some basic tips to help ensure a safe and happy holiday.

One thing for everyone to remember is that the days are getting shorter during this time of year, so it is getting darker earlier, according to a public service announcement released by Cape Coral Police Department officials.

“One of the oldest things that we can remember is being careful at dusk cause typically, this holiday, the bulk of our children are out there right when the sun goes down,” Lt. Tony Sizemore, spokesman for the Cape police, said. “We have a lot of kids out in costumes, and a lot of costumes are dark.”

Adults should wear reflective clothing, or carry flashlights while walking around the neighborhoods. Reflective tape should be added to costumes.

“To make sure you are visible from the roadway to our motorists,” he said.

One alternative is glowsticks. Selling typically for less than $2, the sticks last between four and six hours and can be used by both children and adults.

“Works as good as a flashlight and won’t really detract from the costume if that’s what the kids are worried about,” Sizemore said.

Adults should make sure that children’s costumes fit properly.”There’s a lot of one size fits all, especially with the little ones,” he said.

The American Red Cross and the Lee County Sheriff’s Office recommend using flame-resistant costumes and keeping costumes short to prevent any trips or falls. Wearing light-colored clothing or costumes also is suggested.

Costumes also should be ventilated so children can breathe.

“We may be in the upper 80s and it could be even hotter under all that clothing,” Sizemore said.

Adults also should make sure children can see through their masks.

“The eye holes on some of these masks may not line up with your child’s eyes,” he said.

The LCSO and American Red Cross suggest using face make-up instead because masks can be hot and uncomfortable and obstruct a child’s view.

“A dangerous thing when kids are crossing streets and going up and down steps,” LCSO officials said in recently released prepared statement.

Adults should accompany young children when it is time to trick or treat. Older children should trick or treat in groups and map out their route.

“There’s safety in numbers,” Sizemore said.

Trick-or-treaters should stick to their own neighborhood that they are familiar with, or stick to a friend’s neighborhood if that it is familiar.

“I wouldn’t go to a strange neighborhood where you don’t know, that’s No. 1,” he said. “Stay on the path that you’re familiar with.”

Local authorities recommend staying on the main roads and using the sidewalks – do not walk in the street. Look both ways before crossing a street and cross only at corners. Do not cross between parked vehicles.

“Don’t take shortcuts, cut through yards or go into dark isolated areas,” Sizemore said. “Stick to the safe areas.”

Select homes that are well lit, have a front light on or are welcoming. Children should accept treats at the door and never go inside of a home.

“You’ll know the homes that obviously don’t want any trick-or-treaters,” Sizemore said. “Stick to the ones that are receptive.”

For younger children, parents should them up to front doors.

“Don’t wait in the street and let them run up,” he said. “Make sure that they’re safe and know what homes they’re approaching.”

The LCSO also recommends visiting FDLE’s Sexual Offender and Predator database to ensure children are not visiting homes of registered offenders. The site, which is open to the public, is at: offender.fdle.state.fl.us .

“Keep in mind that, historically, there’s a lot of other alternative options (to neighborhood trick or treating),” Sizemore said.

Shopping centers, malls, schools, churches and event hospitals have been know to throw “safe” trick or treating event for families with children.

“That might be an option is you’re a little bit leery or new to the area or just not comfortable with walking around in the neighborhood,” he said.

Local authorities also suggested adults should screen all treat before allowing children to eat them. Do not to eat any before they are checked at home in a well lit area. Discard homemade and unwrapped candy or treats.

For those handing out candy, the Red Cross recommends sweeping leaves from sidewalks and steps and clearing the porch or front yard of obstacles children can trip over. Use glowsticks in jack-o-lanterns instead of candles.

Sizemore said the Cape police are encouraging residents to have fun.

“Our officers are going to be working in full force that night. We’ll be out in the neighborhoods keeping an eyes on the kids,” he said. “If there’s something going on or something that needs to be reported, absolutely call us.”

Contact the Cape Coral Police Department at its non-emergency number at 574-3223 or dial 911, or submit a tip by texting “CCPD” plus the message to CRIMES. Citizens can also stop by the police department or stop an officer.

“We want everybody to have a safe and happy Halloween,” Sizemore said.