Safety urged at Halloween events tonight

Published 1:08 am Thursday, October 30, 2008

Thousands of ghosts, ghouls and goblins are expected to flood Andalusia tonight for “Halloween on the Square,” which will begin at approximately 5:30, and some simple guidelines should be followed to ensure a safe haunting.

Andalusia Police Chief Wilbur Williams said the design of “Halloween on the Square” will eliminate many of the safety concerns normally associated with trick-or-treating.

“The biggest issues involved with trick-or-treating do not apply to ‘Halloween on the Square’ because it is controlled access,” he said. “Many of the hazards that families face in a normal environment are not present. The kids are there and the traffic is restricted to pedestrian only so we do not have the issue of kids potentially running out in front of cars.”

Williams said parents should simply keep an eye on their children at all times and practice proper courtesy while waiting in the various lines to receive candy throughout the event, adding that the city has taken extra measures to increase the safety of the approximately 500,000 pieces of candy to be given out tonight.

“The candy was all purchased in bulk by the city,” he said. “We feel the potential for tampering with candy is extremely limited.”

Parents should still sort through the earnings from tonight’s haunting, according Williams, before allowing their little ghouls and goblins to enjoy the goodies. Williams added that the concentrated setup of “Halloween on the Square” is the safest option for parents and children to enjoy a night of terror on the town.

“It will simply be a good, wholesome community environment designed to be as safe as possible for children of all ages,” he said. “We want everyone to come out, have a good time and enjoy some candy.”

Williams said the square will begin to close down around 5 p.m. and festivities should begin soon after.

“We usually try to give those who work in shops on the square time to relocate their vehicles before we close access,” he said. “We should have everything cleared away and be ready to welcome visitors at approximately 5:30 p.m.

Williams said festivities should wrap up around 8:30 tonight.

Some parents will most likely still make their way through local neighborhoods tonight and Williams said extra precautions should be taken when navigating public streets at night.

“We would encourage parents to consider reflective material if they will be going door to door (tonight),” he said. “Many costumes are dark in color and are not seen clearly on dimly lit sidewalks. Most reflective material is inexpensive and can be purchased at a variety of locations.”

The American Red Cross recommends the following additional safety guidelines to ensure a safe night of trick-or-treating:

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.

Don’t hide or cross the street between parked cars.

Wear light-colored or reflective-type clothing so you are more visible. Remember to put reflective tape on bikes, skateboards, and brooms.

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. Costumes can be extremely flammable.

Visit homes that have the porch light on.

Accept your treats at the door and never go into a stranger’s house.

Use facepaint rather than masks or things that will cover your eyes.

Be cautious of animals and strangers.

Have a adult inspect 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.