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Experts urge that safety precautions be observed for Halloween

COVINGTON -- The tried and true parental warning of, "Be careful," is especially relevant on Halloween, according to public safety experts.

Newton County Fire Service Fire Safety Educator Lt. Cydnie Taylor-Ridling urges parents to make sure Oct. 31 is a "Night for Treats, not Tragedies," the theme for this year's safety recommendations from Safe Kids USA.

That organization's research shows only a third of parents talk to their children about the dangers they might encounter while celebrating Halloween. Their statistics show that twice as many kids are killed while walking on Halloween as compared to any other day of the year, so it is crucial to review safety precautions with children before they get excited and dart out into the roadway.

Rockdale County Sheriff Jeff Wigington said he is hopeful it will be a safe and calm Halloween and he urged drivers to slow down and watch for children.

"People will be out walking more than usual and I'd like to remind walkers that if they walk along the side of the roadway, they are supposed to be facing traffic or walking against the traffic so they can see the vehicles that are approaching," he said.

He cautioned trick-or-treaters to wear bright or reflective clothing.

"Don't wear dark clothes or dress in black. Make sure you have a flashlight and remember it's best to trick-or-treat in your own neighborhood," he said. "And to the parents, I'd like to say don't let your children go out unaccompanied."

Covington Police Department spokesman Capt. Ken Malcom said his department will have increased patrols on the streets Monday evening.

"We're aware of the areas that seem to have the highest foot traffic and we're asking parents to go out with their children," Malcom said. "And it's always a good idea to take advantage of fall festivals and organized events at places of worship which is a safe alternative to trick-or-treating."Newton County Sheriff Ezell Brown sent a Halloween message in which he, too, urged that safety be at the forefront of everyone's mind.

"On behalf of the Newton County Sheriff's Office, I appeal to each of you to help us ensure that this evening of magical 'make believe' is one that provides pleasant memories and lives on in the minds and hearts of our youngest residents," he said. "We are committed to keeping our streets safe on their behalf; and we need your help. So, know where your children are trick-or-treating. Be sure to take time to talk to them about safety."

Georgia Insurance and Safety Fire Commissioner Ralph T. Hudgens warned against the dangers of fire and said to make sure matches, candles and lit Jack-o'-lanterns are kept out of reach of small children and away from flammable materials.

The Better Business Bureau issued a detailed list of safety tips to keep in mind:

Candy Safety

Don't eat candy until it has been inspected at home.

Make sure trick-or-treaters have a snack before leaving home so they won't be tempted to nibble on treats that haven't been inspected.

Tell children not to accept or eat anything that isn't commercially wrapped.

Parents should be mindful of choking hazards for young children such as gum, peanuts, hard candy or small toys.

Inspect all candy and look for signs of tampering such as unusual appearance or discoloration, tiny pinholes or tears in wrappers. Throw away anything that looks suspicious.

Costume Safety

Make sure it fits and make sure your trick-or-treater can safely maneuver the costume, its accessories and a candy receptacle.

Make sure the child can see through their mask or headgear and make sure they can be seen by motorists and others after dark.

Make sure appropriate footwear for walking is worn, even if it isn't perfect for the costume.

Lawn Safety

If a tag for lights, decorations or electronic devices say "Indoor Use Only," adhere to that advice. If a trick-or-treater receives an electric shock or is otherwise hurt by such a device, the homeowner's liability is not worth the risk.

Make sure their are no tripping risks in your yard -- no holes, no power cords, no tie-lines for inflatable displays, etc.

If you have a valuable display, put it out of reach of children.

Final Thoughts for the children

Avoid trick-or-treating alone. Walk in groups or with a trusted adult.

While trick-or-treating, hold a flashlight to help you see and help others see you.

Look both ways before crossing the street. Use established crosswalks whenever possible.

Only walk on sidewalks or on the far edge of the road facing traffic.

Enter homes only if you're with a trusted adult. Otherwise, stay outside.