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October 29, 2013

Halloween brings risks along with treats for youngsters

Dark Halloween costumes are great for playing tricks or sneaking up to scare friends but they can also prove dangerous for youngsters who are trick-or-treating at night. With swarms of children and their parents hitting the streets in search of candy, October 31 is the deadliest night of the year for pedestrians.

Dark Halloween costumes are great for sneaking up to scare friends, but they can prove dangerous for youngsters who are trick-or-treating at night.

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

Ceres Police Chief Art de Werk said that while candy-tampering is a scary thought, it very rarely happens. The most realistic threats to children are motorists and the child’s own inattention.

From 2007-11, 52 percent of all national vehicle fatalities occurring on Halloween involved a drunken driver, according to the National Traffic Safety Administration.

But even sober drivers can miss exuberant children, rushing to fill their candy bags, who dart out from in between cars.

De Werk recommends that children wear reflective or bright costumes and avoid masks that interfere with vision.

“The kids should stay on sidewalks, cross streets only at intersections, carry flashlights and wear strobes of some kind,” he said in an email.

Patrol officers around Stanislaus County will keep an eye on children and watch for drunken drivers Halloween night and into the weekend. In Modesto, saturation patrols will be deployed Friday night to stop drunken drivers, and a DUI/driver’s license checkpoint will be set up Saturday night.

Modesto police also have visited several elementary schools in the past month to talk to children about Halloween safety, and those same tips will be given to Neighborhood Watch coordinators today.

Here are some Halloween safety tips for drivers, trick-or-treaters and folks handing out candy:

•  Purchase and allow children to eat only wrapped or packaged candy. Encourage children not to eat candy until a responsible adult has checked it.
•  Sweep leaves from your home’s sidewalks and steps.
•  Clear your porch and front yard of any obstacles a child could trip over.
•  Restrain any household pets.
•  Choose costumes that don’t obstruct vision; non-toxic face paint instead of masks is a safe option.
•  Adjust the length of costumes to avoid tripping.
•  Avoid simulated knives, guns or swords. If such props are used, be certain they do not appear authentic and are soft and flexible to prevent injury.
•  Children should be accompanied by an adult when trick-or-treating.
•  Trick-or-treat in a familiar neighborhood, and approach only well-lighted homes.
•  Make sure costumes are reflective to make them more visible to drivers. Attach reflective tape to bags and costumes if needed.
•  Carry a flashlight.
•  Tell children never to enter a home unless accompanied by a parent.
•  Caution children about running out from between parked cars or across lawns. Instruct them to cross streets only at corners and to look both ways before crossing. Use crosswalks when possible.
•  Walk on sidewalks.
•  Drivers should remain cautious and drive slowly.
•  Plan a safe way home before the festivities begin.
•  Before drinking, designate a sober driver.
•  If you’re intoxicated, call a cab, a sober friend or family member.
•  If you see a drunken driver on the road, call 911.
•  If you know someone is about to drive drunk, take the keys and help the person find a safe way home.

Sources: Modesto Police Department and AAA Northern California

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