Authorities advise parents to take Halloween safety precautions

Wednesday, Oct. 30, 2013 3:57 PM
Last updated Thursday, Oct. 31, 2013 2:18 AM
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Compared with other holidays, Halloween is relatively crime-free, but police say the safety of trick-or-treaters remains a concern.

Accidents involving children are rare, but officers still stress the importance of child safety and driver safety.

In 2011, about 38 percent of fatalities on Halloween night occurred in a crash involving a driver with a blood alcohol concentration of 0.08 or higher, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

Locally, Halloween’s low number of drinking and driving incidents don’t compare with other holidays such as New Year’s Eve and Fourth of July, Richmond County sheriff’s Lt. Calvin Chew said.

To promote safety, Chew said, no child should go trick-or-treating alone.

“First and foremost, kids should always have an adult with them,” he said.

Even when children are familiar with a neighborhood and its homeowners, police said, an adult should accompany trick-or-treaters, who don’t always remember to stay in well-lit areas.

“They’re so excited, running around from house to house,” Chew said. “You never know if a child will dart out in the road on the way to another house.”

Drivers are asked to use extra caution in all areas Thursday.

Adults supervising children are also asked to be cautious, particularly when it comes to treats being offered. Authorities advise parents to check their children’s candy before letting them eat the treats.

Rene Hopkins, the coordinator of Safe Kids Greater Augusta, said parents should feed children before trick-or-treating so that no one is tempted to snack before parents can inspect the candy. Anything that isn’t sealed, wrapped or “just doesn’t look right” should be discarded. Homes that parents are familiar with are the best option.

Although Georgia’s parole board will be working to ensure that sex offenders do not participate in Halloween activities, parents are advised to become familiar with the GBI’s sex offender registry before heading out Thursday.

“Sex offenders in the community will once again be prohibited from decorating for Halloween, having outside lights turned on or answering the door and giving out treats,” said David Morrison, the field operations director.

Georgia has 1,148 sex offenders under parole supervision. Offenders will be under dusk-to-dawn curfews. Parole officers will team with local law enforcement officers to make residence checks throughout the evening.

In some areas in the state, offenders will be required to report to a facility where they will remain throughout trick-or-treating hours.

HALLOWEEN SAFETY TIPS

Motorists:

• Don’t use a cellphone while driving in neighborhoods.

• Drive below the posted speed limit in neighborhoods with trick-or-treaters.

• Turn on hazard lights while waiting on children.

Trick-or-treaters:

• Ensure that costumes are flame-resistant, reflective and checked to make sure they are not a trip hazard or obstruct view. Items such as swords and canes should be used with caution because they could injure other trick-or-treaters.

• An adult should accompany young children.

• Prepare a route before leaving home.

• Only go to homes with porch lights turned on and homes you know. Never enter a home or vehicle to get candy.

• Carry a flashlight and a cellphone for emergency communication if needed.

• Walk only on sidewalks and well-lit areas.

• Alert law enforcement immediately of any suspicious behavior.

• Thoroughly check treats before eating.

• Don’t assume the right of way. Motorists have difficulty seeing trick-or-treaters.

Sources: South Carolina Highway Patrol and American Academy of Pediatrics

Staying safe

AAA and Bud Light will team up again Thursday to offer free rides to any intoxicated drivers with their Tow to Go service.

The service, which runs to Sunday, will offer a confidential tow and ride to a safe location within a 10-mile radius. It is available to AAA members and nonmembers in Georgia, Florida and Tennessee.

In Georgia, call (855) 2-TOW-2-GO.

 
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