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A safe Halloween is everyone’s responsibility

Safety tips for parents, children and homeowners

The night your kids wait for all year (except for maybe Christmas) is just a few nights away.

Ponoka RCMP detachment commander Sgt. Chris Smiley shares some safety tips for a safe and enjoyable Halloween night on Oct. 31.

“I still believe that the highest risk of injury on Halloween night is being hit by a car,” said Smiley.

To stay safe from vehicles, trick-or-treaters should visit houses on one side of the street at a time, rather than criss-crossing back-and-forth and never walk out between cars to cross the street and stay in familiar neighbourhoods.

It’s also helpful for the kiddies to wear bright costumes rather than dark, as they will be more visible.

Other tips from the RCMP K Division include using reflective tape or glow sticks to help little goblins and ghouls be seen and carrying a flashlight, wearing face paint instead of a mask so vision isn’t obstructed, travelling with an adult or responsible group if old enough to be unsupervised and carrying a cellphone.

A few tips from the Red Cross Smiley agrees with include making sure children know they should only accept treats at the door and not enter a home or vehicle of a stranger, and set agreed-to boundaries with your children, explaining the importance of staying within them and arriving home on time.

It’s still a good idea to make sure all candy is inspected by an adult before it’s consumed.

Although Smiley says he’s never seen a case of candy-tampering in his 15 years of policing, it is still best practice to carefully check wrappers and throw out anything that looks suspicious.

He adds checking your kid’s candy is a good chance to cash in on the parental “candy tax.”

As homeowners, you can also help keep trick-or-treaters safe on Halloween night.

Make sure your sidewalk and yard are free of tripping hazards such as ladders, hoses, dog leashes or flower pots.

Also turn your outside lights on if you’re giving out candy, and make sure your walkway is brightly-lit.

If you have animals, put them away so they won’t be trying to escape constantly or jumping on children at the door.

To prevent property crime, make sure your vehicles are locked and valuable or tempting items such as your favourite garden gnome are put away, says Smiley, as such items can be attractive.

Ponoka has a low-youth crime rate compared to similar-sized communities, according to Smiley, however, there is more opportunity for mischief on Halloween.

“It does spike a bit but nothing too drastic,” he said.

Typical kinds of mischief seen on Halloween include spray paint vandalism, toilet-papering, egging or soaped windows.

“We haven’t seen much of that.”

There’s never been a “disproportionate” amount of youth-crime in Ponoka, but those stats have dropped in the last couple of years.

Smiley attributes the decline in mischief in part to the good work of the School Resource Officer (SRO), the Ponoka Youth Centre and the parents for “some good parenting.”

“Ultimately that is the most important element.”

As always, report any suspicious activity to the RCMP.

Further Halloween safety tips can be found at infoweb.rcmp-grc.gc.ca under Media Lines, Halloween, or at www.redcross.ca

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