Homeowners have a role
in protecting children this
Halloween, a police chief says.
By ANGIE SCHMITT
VINDICATOR STAFF WRITER
They’re all suited up and ready to go, but what’s the trick to keeping children safe this Halloween?
Thousands of festively dressed children will descend on Mahoning Valley neighborhoods with twinkling tiaras, superhero capes and goodie bags beginning today and peaking Wednesday, Halloween night.
Local police departments are planning extra patrols for Beggars Night, intended to slow traffic and keep watch over reveling youngsters.
Officers from the Mahoning County sheriff’s office will have treat bags for children in Youngstown and Campbell, where they will back up regular patrols, said Sheriff Randall Wellington. The sheriff said he is expecting an uneventful evening.
Halloween season disasters have been relatively rare, the officials say.
Even so, a few common sense precautions can prevent a happy holiday from becoming a nightmare:
UTrick-or-treaters should visit only familiar and well-lighted homes, said Lt. Bryan Kloss of the Austintown Police Department.
“It’s not recommended that you go to strangers’ houses,” he said. “If you know your neighbors, you should stick to those houses.”
Kloss said he’s aware that many children, especially older children, will venture outside of their range of familiarity. Those who do should take extra precautions, he said.
UYoung children should be accompanied by an adult or older sibling, said Hubbard Township Police Chief Todd Coonce. Parents that don’t accompany their children should know the routes their children will be following and designate a time to return.
“Let the older kids take a cell phone with them,” he suggested. “Set an alarm or something.”
UBe wary of costumes that restrict children’s vision, or could pose a tripping or fire hazard, said Lordstown Village Police Chief Brent Milhoan.
“A lot of times masks and things like that, you have limited vision,” he said. “We try to get kids to pick the right costumes, something where you don’t easily trip.”
UWear light-colored clothing or carry a flashlight, said Kloss.
“These kids get dressed up, but a lot of times they’re in dark colors and they’re in the roadway,” he said. “If that’s the case, they should be carrying a flashlight, turned-on.”
UHave a parent inspect candy before eating it, said Coonce.
“Product tampering is rare,” said Coonce. “But you want to make sure the kids bring everything home and have the parents check.”
Beware candy that looks like it may have been rewrapped, said Coonce.
Homeowners share an important role in protecting children this Halloween, as well.
UPrecautions should be taken to restrain dogs, even those that are not normally vicious, Coonce said.
“People don’t think of those things but you’ve got strangers coming up to your house in costumes and dogs could get a little excited about that,” he said.
UHomeowners should also take care to clear their yard of obstructions that could pose tripping hazards for eager young trick-or-treaters.
USpecial attention should be made to keep candles out of reach of costumes and bags, he said.
Police Chief John Krawchyk of Columbiana said Halloween activities have been generally uneventful in recent years. Krawchyk said the village’s commitment to restrict trick-or-treating to daylight hours has contributed to positive outcomes.
Columbiana and many other local police departments will be conducting extra patrols, especially in residential areas, he said.
“We try to roll as many cars as we can,” Krawchyk said. “Most of our [volunteer] auxiliary forces are out that night.”