October 25, 2011

Play it Safe This Halloween

Have Fun – And Be Safe – This Halloween

Now that the Winfield trick-or-treaters are old enough to venture out on their own, new rules apply for their Tiffany Park neighborhood in West Arlington. Don’t be alone. Carry a working flashlight. Face the traffic when walking on streets. Plan the route ahead of time.

“And never, ever, ever get in someone’s car,” said Lisa Winfield, mother of David and Devon, ages 14 and 13. “We consider this a pretty quiet neighborhood, but on Halloween, everything kind of changes.”

Arlington Police will agree. Each year the department stresses how Halloween quickly loses its luster when something unwanted occurs.

“Halloween is a fun time for kids – they love going trick-or-treating, but with so many kids on the streets a lot of things can happen,” Arlington Crime Prevention Officer Karen Donahue said of the big day, which officially begins at sunset on Monday, Oct. 31.

Some of them include making sure children are always with adults, stopping at only familiar homes where the outside lights are on, and putting more care into costumes than how scary or engaging they might look.

For instance, costumes should be in bright colors or decorated with reflective tape for increased night visibility, especially in neighborhoods where there are no sidewalks.

Costumes and their accessories, like masks, beards, and wigs, should be flame resistant. They should also be short enough to avoid the wearer tripping over them. In fact, some parents are urged to do make-up instead of a mask, which can often impede vision.

According to Community Services Educator Chris Huff, Halloween can also be a bit nerve racking for pets, especially dogs left in the back yard during the height of trick-or-treating when there’s lots of people and unusual noise.

Residents are urged to consider keeping them in a separate room during the evening if they are not all that sociable. Even the most low-key dog can get a bit spooked by people in unusual attire.

Keep tin foil, cellophane candy wrappers, and candies away from pets, especially chocolates; they can actually be poisonous to dogs. Also steer pets clear of lighted pumpkins. They could easily knock it over and cause a fire.
Officer Donahue said the most pressing concern is often motorists. They are asked to use their headlights before nightfall to increase the vehicle’s visibility, not to speed (staying at 10 to 15 miles per hour while in a neighborhood is a good rule), and not to text while driving.

“I love Halloween, my kids love Halloween, our neighbors really love it,” Lisa Winfield said. “It’s just best to be cautious.”

Click here for more Halloween tips


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