Merced County law enforcement officials share Halloween safety tips

rgiwargis@mercedsunstar.comOctober 30, 2013 

— A flock of children will hit the streets of Merced tonight in search of candy, but law enforcement officials want parents to remember a few tips for safe trick-or-treating this Halloween.

Although dark-colored costumes and masks might be the scariest, officials say wearing reflective clothing and carrying a flashlight or glow sticks is the best thing kids can do to stay safe.

“The biggest thing is visibility,” said Livingston Police Sgt. Ray Fong. “A lot of the costumes aren’t designed for safety, that’s why its important to have your glow light or flashlight to make sure cars see you.”

“Since there’s a lot more people on the street, drivers have a hard time noticing everything,” he said. Fong said children should stay on the sidewalks and treat driveways like intersections – don’t assume cars will yield, and check both sides before crossing.

With swarms of children and their parents on the streets, Oct.31 is the deadliest night of the year for pedestrians, according to the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety.

Atwater Police Lt. Sam Joseph said children should always walk in groups while trick-or-treating, and parents should carefully inspect candy to ensure it’s properly wrapped or packaged before eating.

“Parents need to make a decision,” Joseph said. “If they don’t feel comfortable with the candy, throw it out. It’s better to be safe than sorry.”

Livingston and Atwater police departments said they are adding more officers to patrol the streets tonight on the lookout for drunk drivers. From 2007-11, 52percent of all national vehicle fatalities on Halloween involved a drunken driver, according to the National Traffic Safety Administration.

Deputy Delray Shelton, spokesman for the Merced County Sheriff’s Department, said finding out where registered sex offenders live in the neighborhood is another way to be cautious.

“It’s always good to know who’s who so your children don’t become victims,” Shelton said, adding that parents can search the internet using the Megan’s Law website for registered sex offenders.

Shelton said parents should know the route the kids will be taking and check in with them periodically to make sure they don’t deviate from that route.

Since some Merced County streets aren’t as well-lit as others, Shelton said, it’s important to exercise extra caution.

“Because of the dark roads, be very careful when you cross the street and be aware of your surroundings,” Shelton added. “We always recommend to never to go into stranger’s houses no matter what.”

Sun-Star staff writer Ramona Giwargis can be reached at (209) 385-2477 or

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