Law officials give tips on how to be safe while trick-or-treating

TRICK-OR-TREAT: Oct. 31 is considered one of the most deadly nights of the year because of the combination of alcohol and increased pedestrian traffic. (Pioneer file photo)

TRICK-OR-TREAT: Oct. 31 is considered one of the most deadly nights of the year because of the combination of alcohol and increased pedestrian traffic. (Pioneer file photo)

BIG RAPIDS — On Halloween evening, children venture out of their homes dressed as witches and wizards, ghouls and goblins, heroes and villains all with one goal in mind — candy.

On a night filled with spooky fun, safety can easily be overlooked.

Oct. 31 is one of the most dangerous nights of the year because of the deadly combination of alcohol and increased pedestrian traffic, according to the National Highway and Traffic Safety Administration.

Further, a report states in 2012, almost half of all crash fatalities on Halloween involved a drunk driver.

In order to keep everyone safe this Halloween, law enforcement officials are reminding residents how to enjoy trick-or-treating without a disaster.

“Parents and children need to pay attention to traffic,” said Mecosta County Sheriff’s Office deputy Jason

Losinski, who works as a school liaison officer. “Always use a crosswalk when crossing the street.”

Trick-or-treating safety is a responsibility of not just the children, but the chaperons who head out with their children as well.

Before hitting the streets, adults should examine the costumes to make sure trick-or-treaters are ready for the chilly temperatures and can safely patrol the streets.

“We know we spend money on our costumes, but if it’s cold the kids need to be warm,” Losinski said. “We suggest costumes that are not too long to prevent tripping. Also try to avoid masks. Look into using makeup instead because masks can inhibit sight.”

For props, such as swords, Losinski encourages parents to purchase rubber or foam materials instead of plastic or wood.

“A foam object is safer and won’t injure a child as much compared to a plastic costume prop if they fall or are playing with them,” Losinski said.

HALLOWEEN SAFETY: Trick-or-treating can be a night full of fun, but it's important to follow the safety rules to avoid any disasters. (Pioneer file photo)

HALLOWEEN SAFETY: Trick-or-treating can be a night full of fun, but it’s important to follow the safety rules to avoid any disasters. (Pioneer file photo)

As the night goes on and the sun goes down, visibility is limited which can be dangerous when little ones are out running from house to house collecting sweets.

“Always have something brightly colored such as a trick-or-treating bag, carry a flashlight or glow stick or even put reflective tape on the side of the costumes themselves,” Losinski said.

Losinski also stressed the importance of having parental supervision for young ones during Halloween night.

“Even older kids should team up and travel in pairs,” he said. “It’s safer to be in groups while out on the streets.”

When approaching a home, Losinski emphasizes knowing your surroundings.

“Parents should walk up to the house with little kids when they knock on doors,” Losinski said. “It’s also important to only go to homes that have a lit porch light.”

Once children have their candy, Losinski reminds parents it’s important nobody eats the candy until everyone is home and it can be inspected.

“Discard any candy that is unwrapped or suspicious looking,” Losinski said. “If the child does get sick, contact the family doctor.”

According to Losinski, trick-or-treating brings more kids out and about than any other day of the year.

“Drivers should be paying attention even more and know the dates and times of trick-or-treating,” he said. “Paying attention to safety tips of all kinds is the key when you have that many children out.”

When it comes to Halloween night, fire safety also is important to pay attention to while out trick-or-treating.

During the five-year-period from 2007 through 2011, the National Fire Prevention Association estimated decorations were the item first ignited in an average of 920 reported home structure fires per year.

“If you have to light up your pumpkin, use a battery operated candle, so you don’t have to worry about fire,” said Russ Bell, Big Rapids Department of Public Safety firefighter.

Bell reminds trick-or-treaters to pay attention to candles in pumpkins while knocking on doors.

“Be aware of your costume near a candle,” he said. “A lot of costumes are made with flammable materials.”

Here are the local trick-or-treating times around the Big Rapids area:

  • Big Rapids — Trick-or-treat from 6 to 8 p.m.
  • Evart — Trick-or-treat from 5 to 8 p.m.; Monster Mash event from 5 to 7 p.m. on Main Street
  • Reed City — Trick-or-treat from 5 to 7 p.m.; Halloween in the Park from noon to 2 p.m. at Westerburg Park
  • Hersey — Downtown Trunk or Treat beginning at 5 p.m.; door-to-door trick-or-treating scheduled all evening
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Posted by Katlyn Vuillemot

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