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Tips can help keep kids safe on Halloween
Do not let kids trick or treat alone
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Trick or treat safety tips

Motorists

  • Do not use a cellphone while driving.
  • Drive well below the posted speed limit.
  • Pay attention to what is happening on sidewalks and roadways; watch out for children darting across the street.
  • Be extra alert when pulling in and out of driveways.
  • Don’t assume children can see your vehicle or that they’re paying attention.
  • Do not pass stopped vehicles in roadways. They may be dropping children off.


Parents

  • Try makeup instead of masks. It doesn’t obstruct vision like a mask can.
  • Keep costumes short to prevent trips and falls.
  • Wear bright colors or attach reflective strips to costumes to increase visibility.
  • Never let a child go trick-or-treating alone.
  • Have a plan in place in case of accidental separation.
  • Attach emergency contact information to the inside of the child’s costume in case of separation.
  • Check all of the child’s treats before letting them gorge. Watch out for anything that isn’t factory-wrapped or is no longer sealed. Be mindful of food allergies.
  • Instruct children to stay on sidewalks and cross streets at corners and crosswalks.


Neighborhoods

  • Keep houses well-lit both inside and outside.
  • Report any suspicious or criminal activities to law enforcement.
  • Don’t allow a stranger into your home.
  • Clear sidewalks and walkways and remove anything that could cause a person to trip.


Safety tips provided by The Gainesville Police Department, Hall County Sheriff’s Office
and the National Crime Prevention Council.

Trick-or-Treat on the Square

When: 3-5 p.m. today
Where: Downtown square, Gainesville

Trick-or-Treat at the Mall

When: 6-8 p.m.
Where: Lakeshore Mall, 150 Pearl Nix Parkway, Gainesville

Local law enforcement agencies are urging parents, neighborhoods and motorists to be cautious of trick-or-treaters this Halloween.

Cpl. Joe Britte, Gainesville Police Department public information officer, said extra patrols will be out and about this evening but they don’t expect to see much trouble, except for the occasional Halloween prank.

Sgt. Stephen Wilbanks, public information officer for the Hall County Sheriff’s Office, said deputies will be patrolling neighborhoods and residential areas in the county to help control traffic.

“It ensures them that they’re going to have a constant law enforcement presence. And the deputies enjoy getting out there with the kids and being in a positive environment,” Wilbanks said.

While parents receive a lot of warnings about tainted candy, candle fires and even child abductions, the real Halloween tricks are rarely about those things. Instead, tragedies related to the holiday typically involve trick-or-treaters hit by cars. Fortunately, even those accidents are relatively few in number.

Britte urges motorists to be extremely cautious, especially in neighborhoods where there will be more foot traffic than usual. Excited children dressed in dark clothes could easily forget the rules of the road while trying to get from one house to the next.

According to statistics from the U.S. Department of Transportation, in four out of five years between 2006 and 2010, more pedestrians under the age of 21 were killed by cars on Oct. 31 than on Oct. 30 or Nov. 1.

The numbers are small: A total of 16 deaths took place on Oct. 31 during those five years compared to 11 on Oct. 30 and 10 on Nov. 1.

To help prevent a tragic accident, motorists shouldn’t use a cellphone while driving and should drive well below the speed limit in neighborhoods. Drivers should pay attention to what is happening on sidewalks and roadways and not assume children can see the vehicle or are paying attention.

Parents can help prevent accidents, too, by increasing their children’s visibility. Having a chid carry a flashlight or glowstick or applying reflective tape to costumes can greatly reduce the risk of not being seen.

“If you’re going to trick or treat at night, make sure you’re wearing bright clothing and don’t let kids wander off from you,” Britte said.

No child should ever go trick-or-treating alone. Parents or another trusted adult should accompany young children, and older children should trick-or-treat in groups. Parents can stay in touch with teens by calling or texting them on their cellphones.

Statistically it’s rare for children to be kidnapped by strangers, but it seems there’s always a case in the news.

In the last few weeks, a girl was found murdered in Colorado and another child was abducted, then found, in Wyoming. So it’s understandable that Halloween makes parents nervous, with kids out after dark, sometimes unaccompanied by parents, often approaching strangers to ask for candy.

However, there is no data to suggest an increase in reports of missing children on Halloween, according to the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children.

But that doesn’t mean parents shouldn’t remain cautious of their children’s whereabouts at all times.

Wilbanks said parents should make certain children know not to approach an unlit house and to never go inside a stranger’s house or vehicle.

Families can also avoid some of the risks by attending community organized trick-or-treat events. In Gainesville, there are a couple of options, including the annual Trick-or-Treat on the Square from 3-5 p.m. and at Lakeshore Mall for storefront trick-or-treat from 6-8 p.m.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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