Editor's note: This column was prepared for Patch by Cpl. Alan Wilkett of the Pasco County Sheriff's Office.
Want to know what you can do to keep your trick-or-treaters safe this Halloween?
Here are some tips from the Pasco County Sheriff's Office:
- Parents and guardians can look up sexual offenders and predators in their neighborhood on the Pasco Sheriff’s Office website. Look up your zip code and it should have a list of registered offenders in your area that includes street addresses. Make sure that your kids stay away from these houses!
- Know what other activities a child may be attending, such as parties, school or mall functions. If they are going to be at a friend’s home, get the phone number and make sure that you've met the parents.
- Make sure you set a time that your kids should be home by. Make sure they know how important it is for them to be home on time or to call immediately if something happens and they are going to be delayed.
- Serve your kids a filling meal before trick or treating and they won't be as tempted to eat any candy before they bring it home for you to check. Check your local grocery store or craft store for Halloween cook books full of tasty treats on a horror theme for both kids and adults.
- Teach your kids about not getting into strangers cars or talking to strangers, no matter what the person says to them. Explain to them as simply as you can that some adults are bad and want to hurt children, that they should never go into a house that they don't know, get into a car or go anywhere with a stranger. Also, tell them what to do should this happen, to scream as loud as they can to draw attention and to run away as fast as they can to someplace safe.
- Be sure to show your children know how to cross a street properly. They should always look both ways before crossing the street and should only cross at corners or crosswalks. Make sure that if you have more than one child, they know to take the hand of the younger child when they cross a street.
Tips For Older Children
- If you are an older kid or teenager, and going out with friends, make sure that your parents know where you are going and who you are going with.
- If you parents give you a curfew, be home when they say. It builds trust between you and them and they are doing it for your own safety. If you are going to be late, call them and let them know.
Halloween Costume Safety
- Wear flame retardant costumes.
- Try on costumes before Halloween to allow time for altering.
- Hem your costumes so you don't trip and fall.
- Apply reflective tape to your Halloween costumes.
- Avoid cumbersome masks. Use make-up instead.
- Use only hypoallergenic and non-toxic makeup.
- Wear comfortable, practical shoes.
- Double tie your shoelaces so you don't trip.
- Keep your costume and wig away from candles.
- Don't carry fake swords, guns, knives or similar accessories that look authentic. Make sure they're flexible and cannot harm anyone.
- Plan your route ahead of time.
- Trick or treat in familiar neighborhoods.
- Carry a flashlight with fresh batteries after dark.
- Always trick or treat in groups, accompanied by an adult.
- Know curfew hours in your county or city.
- Stay on the sidewalks and out of the streets. Cross only at intersections and designated crosswalks.
- Walk, don’t run.
- Don't trample through flower beds and gardens.
- Watch out for open flames in jack-o-lanterns.
- Walk with your head up and be aware of your surroundings.
- Only visit well lit houses. Don't stop at dark houses.
- Don't enter any houses.
- Don't approach unfamiliar pets and animals.
- Don't cut across yards and stay out of backyards.
- Follow traffic signals and don't jaywalk.
- Always watch for cars backing up or turning.
- Review the "stop, drop and roll" procedure in case your costume catches on fire.
- Never accept rides from strangers.
- Respect other people and their property.
- Don't eat any candy until it has been inspected.
- Avoid candy that has loose wrappings, is unwrapped, has puncture holes, or is homemade.
- Small children should not be allowed hard candy they may choke on.
- Report any suspicious or criminal activity to an adult or the police.
A big thanks to Cpl. Wilkett for passing along these tips!