Local fire, police departments urge Halloween safety

pdonohue@beaufortgazette.comOctober 28, 2011 

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

  • Fasten reflective tape to children's costumes and bags to make them more visible to drivers.

  • Examine all treats for choking hazards and tampering before allowing children to eat them.

  • Hold a flashlight while trick-or-treating to help children see and help others see them.

  • Only walk on sidewalks whenever possible, or on the far edge of the road facing traffic.

  • Source: Centers for Disease Control

  • Get breaking news and story updates about crime, courts and emergency services in northern Beaufort County by following Protect and Serve on Twitter.

Although many Halloween revelers take precautions to protect themselves against would-be mischief makers, some may not consider the holiday's many fire hazards, area fire officials say.

Nationally, Halloween decorations fuel more than 1,000 house fires a year, and nearly all of them could have been prevented, said Capt. John Robinson of the Beaufort Fire Department.

Robinson said parents should not overload electrical outlets with lights and appliances or leave lit candles unattended. Fire officials also recommend replacing traditional candles inside jack o' lanterns with battery-operated lights.

"For Halloween, most safety concerns are common sense, but when the kids get excited about their costumes and the candy, adults can become distracted and forget the basics," Robinson said. "That can be a terrible oversight."

Capt. Randy Hunter of the Bluffton Township Fire District said parents also should be mindful of their children's costumes.

"We want to make sure with loose clothing and those longer costumes that we keep children away from open flames, candles inside pumpkins, things like that," Hunter said. "We don't want those costumes to catch on fire."

Lowcountry trick-or-treaters and their families will see an increased police presence, according to law enforcement officials.

"Citizens can expect to see a heavy traffic-enforcement presence on roadways throughout the county, especially on" Monday, said Sgt. Robin McIntosh, spokeswoman for the Beaufort County Sheriff's Office.

Local police departments have not set a time for trick-or-treating and urge parents to use common sense when taking their children out Monday night.

Police also urge drivers to look out for trick-or-treaters Monday, especially in residential areas where lots of costumed children are making the rounds.

"Drivers should expect more pedestrians walking in or around the roadway," said Cpl. Bob Beres, spokesman for the S.C. Highway Patrol. "Pedestrians should wear some type of reflective material or light-colored clothing so drivers can identify those walking close to the road. When vehicles and pedestrians are close to each other, don't assume they see one another. Drivers and pedestrians should try and make eye contact."

Follow reporter Patrick Donohue at twitter.com/ProtectServeBft.

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