It’s almost Halloween, and that means giggling ghosts and winsome witches will be trick-or-treating in your neighborhood. Because kids tend to focus on the excitement of Halloween and forget about safety, it’s up to us parents, care givers, and motorists to take special care so that these little boys and “ghouls” have a safe and happy holiday, and aren’t “haunted” by unnecessary injuries.
Channel 4 reports that law enforcement in northeast Florida is ramping up patrols through neighborhoods for Halloween, on the lookout for any lawbreakers, especially sex offenders who could be violating the Florida statutes. “We realize there are Halloween parties with adults, so we have traffic concerns, we have children walking in the streets, so we don’t want to have DUIs and traffic concerns with children in the streets,” said Cmdr. Chuck Mulligan, of the St. Johns County Sheriff’s Office. Mulligan said the Sheriff’s Office will have youth resource officers, detectives, traffic units and more deputies on the streets ready to respond to any scenario. “Our goal is to not to have to arrest anyone,” he said. “Our goal is to keep the kids safe. And so if all those rules are being followed and there are no violations, then certainly we move forward until the next year and to the next Halloween.” As for sex offenders, the Sheriff’s Office talks to them before the holiday night and reminds them of the ordinances, including that they have to put a sign out indicating there is no candy and they are not celebrating Halloween. They also can’t have outside lights on or any holiday decorations. The agency will conduct checks on those people Halloween night. “Our intelligence lead policing unit will also be out doing Halloween safety checks on sex offenders to ensure none of them are in violation of St. Johns County ordinances, and that remains a safe avenue for our kids as well,” Mulligan said. He said this is a good reminder to parents out trick-or-treating with their children to supervise them while they are out and not approach a home that doesn’t look like it’s in the Halloween spirit.
What can we all do to make sure our trick-or-treaters are safe?
If you are driving:
- Stay alert. Neighborhoods that don’t normally have a lot of pedestrian and bicycle traffic may experience an increase on Halloween night.
- Remember that kids will be excited, and may be trying to visit as many houses as possible within a specific time frame. Trick-or-treaters may suddenly dart into traffic from between parked cars.
- Be particularly cautious in areas where cars are parked along the side of the street.
- Watch for children walking in the street, especially if there are no sidewalks in the neighborhood.
- Be patient and SLOW DOWN. Give children lots of time to cross the street. Their costumes may impair their ability to see and hear you, and to get out of your way quickly.
- Remember that kids will be excited and may forget to “stop, look, and listen” before they cross the street.
- Purchase or make costumes that are light colored and clearly visible to motorists.
- Decorate (and get the kids to help!) or trim costumes, “goody bags,” and other containers with reflective tape that will glow in the beam of a car’s headlights.
- Reflective tape can be purchased at bicycle, hardware, and sporting goods stores.
- Make sure costumes are short enough so they don’t cause children to trip or fall.
- Children should wear well-fitting, sturdy shoes.
- Masks should not impair a child’s hearing or field of vision. If necessary, enlarge ear and eye holes, or use makeup to create special effects. Tie hats and scarves securely to prevent them from slipping over children’s eyes.