Think safety for a 'spooktacular' Halloween

  • Published
  • By 2nd Lt. Ken Scholz
  • 55th Wing Public Affairs
It's time for pillow cases to become bags to haul candy, face paint and masks to become the norm, and little ones to transform in to ghosts, ghouls and Hannah Montanas. It's also a night of potential dangers if approached without forethought and responsibility from both parents and children. 

"The biggest safety concerns center around trick-or-treating in the dusk and darkness," said Tech. Sgt. Sarah Law, ground safety journeyman with the 55th Wing Safety Office. "Since many kids trick-or-treat during darkness, we are most concerned about lighting in the neighborhoods, reflective clothing and the use of flash lights." 

According to the safety office, the safest time to trick or treat is during the daylight hours before dusk. However, with winter approaching, it is getting darker earlier, so this may not be feasible. If trick-or-treating during the hours of darkness, remember to wear something reflective and take a flashlight. It is imperative that children be visible to those driving in neighborhoods at night. As always, motorists should be extra cautious and observe or go below the posted speed limits in residential areas. 

Other potential hazards are more unique to Halloween. Candy, for instance, may present a danger if it has been tampered with or opened. 

"Tell children to bring the candy home to be inspected before consuming anything. Anything that is already opened should be thrown away immediately!" said Tech. Sgt. Larry Ebell Jr., ground safety technician in the 55th Wing Safety Office. "If your child receives whole fruit, make sure you wash it and cut it into smaller pieces before consuming." 

Ideally, children should be accompanied by an adult. If going out on their own, children should always be in a group, wear a watch, and know their home phone number and when they need to return home, said Sergeant Ebell. 

Returning home on time is a typical Halloween concern.
"Our biggest issue last year was lost and misplaced children," said Tech. Sgt. Noland Noble, community integration NCO with the 55th Security Forces Squadron. There will be additional security forces patrols in base neighborhoods to assist during Halloween this year, he added. 

"Set a time for your children to return home, and hold them to it! You should always know where they're going; plan their route with them before they set out," said Sergeant Ebell. 

As always, let common sense prevail, but err on the side of caution, letting your children know just how much common sense you expect from them. 

This October, keep your goblins and ghouls happy, healthy and safe by sharing these guidelines provided by wing safety with them: 

Reminders for children
· Walk, slither and sneak on sidewalks, not in the street
· Look both ways before crossing the street to check for cars, trucks and low-flying brooms
· Cross the street only at corners and use crosswalks
· Don't hide behind cars or cross the street between parked cars
· Wear light-colored or reflective-type clothing so you are more visible. And remember to put reflective tape on bikes, skateboards and brooms too!
· Plan your route and share it with your family. If possible, have an adult go with you
· Carry a flashlight to light your way
· Keep away from open fires and candles. Only visit homes that have the porch light on
· Accept your treats at the door and never go into a stranger's house
· Use face paint rather than masks or things that will cover your eyes
· Be cautious of animals and strangers
· Have a grown-up inspect your treats before eating. And don't eat candy if the package is already opened. Small, hard pieces of candy are a choking hazard for young children
· Know your home and parent's cell phone number by heart. Before your child sets out, make a list of instances where your child may need to call 911 instead of calling your first 

Reminders for adults
· Make sure your children eat dinner before setting out. This will decrease temptation to eat candy before it has been inspected
· If you buy a costume, look for one made of flame-retardant material
· Make sure your children aren't wearing anything that obstructs their vision. All masks and wigs should fit properly and not hinder sight
· Costumes shouldn't hinder natural movement
· Costume props should be safe and not have any sharp edges. Also, encourage your children to use props for their intended purpose not horseplay!
· Keep steps, walkways and doorways hazard free
· Use flame-free lighting in outdoor decorations 

Ghost patrol
Between the hours of 6 to 8 p.m., Offutt's security forces squadron will conduct its annual Ghost Patrol Halloween event throughout Coffman Heights and Capehart military family housing areas. The 55th SFS is currently seeking volunteers to assist with patrolling during the event. For more information or to volunteer, call 294-6240 during normal duty hours.