Chief: Keep kids safe on holiday

Published 5:00 am Thursday, October 27, 2005

Ghosts and ghouls will mix with super heroes and fairy-talestaples Monday as children go door-to-door in search of treats forHalloween, and officials are reminding parents to remain safetyconscious.

“We really want the parents to be very careful and have thechildren wear bright clothing, if possible, so they can be seenmore easily,” said Brookhaven Police Chief Pap Henderson. “We arealso asking drivers and citizens to be very careful and alert.”

The extra caution, he said, is because daylight-saving time isset to end early Sunday, meaning it will be dark an hour earlierthan people are used to.

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The earlier nightfall, Henderson hopes, means children will begoing door-to-door in the early evening instead into the night.

“It’ll be getting darker earlier, so we hope that (parents)bring them in at a reasonable hour,” he said.

In addition to the dangers of the road, the night can be fraughtwith horrors of other kinds. Henderson cautioned parents to beaware of anything unusual.

There have been no problems of any kind in Brookhaven in thepast associated with the holiday, Henderson said.

But in some areas, mostly urban, people have used the holiday’sreputation as an “evil” night to inflict pain on children.

In some cities over the years, unwrapped candy has been foundembedded with razor blades, drugs, poison or other repulsivesubstances.

“It’s always a good idea for parents to check the candy theirchildren have received,” Henderson said. “Personally, I would notallow children to eat any unwrapped candy.”

Perhaps the best tip concerning treats, the chief said, is “whenin doubt, throw it out.”

Other tips for parents, provided by Henderson and the NationalSafety Council, include:

* Children under 12 should be supervised and escorted by anadult or an older, responsible youth.

* Parents should know the trick-or-treating route their childrenintend to take.

* Parents should inform children to stop only at houses orapartment buildings that are well-lit and never enter a stranger’shome.

* Parents should establish a return time.

* Children should be forbidden to eat any treat until theyreturn home and the treats can be inspected.

* Parents should pin a slip of paper with the child’s name,address and phone number inside a pocket in case the child getsseparated from the group.

Tips from the National Safety Council for safe costumesinclude:

* Costumes should be made with bright colors, or dark costumesshould have strips of reflective tape placed on them to helpmotorists see the children after dark.

* Only fire-retardant materials should be used.

* They should be loose so warm clothing can be wornunderneath.

* Masks that obstruct a child’s vision should not be worn. Usemakeup instead.