Neighborhood Watch groups were issued eight quick reminders from the Pinellas County Sheriff's Office that will help keep kids safe this Halloween.
1. Watch costume design. Costumes that are too long or cumbersome may cause young children to trip and fall. Masks can block kid’s peripheral vision, preventing them from seeing an oncoming traffic. Consider face paint, a hat or a wig as safer alternatives. Attach a reflective strip or glow stick on your child's costume to make your children more visible to traffic.
2. Go along with your children. Parents, an adult caregiver or perhaps an older sibling should always accompany the little ones as they go door to door. For older children, plan a route beforehand, know where they will go and what time they plan to return. Advise them to use well-traveled routes, not to take shortcuts or go into isolated areas. There is safety in numbers, so traveling in a group is highly recommended.
3. Direct children to approach only well-lit homes that welcoming to trick-or-treaters. Remind them never to accept an invitation to go inside a stranger’s home.
4. Use the Sexual Offender Database. Become familiar with the locations of registered sexual offenders in your community and steer clear. Visit www.fdle.state.fl.us to access the Florida Department of Law Enforcement’s Sexual Offender Database and search for any offenders in your area.
5. Advise your children never to approach a vehicle for candy. Tell them to immediately run away if asked to get inside the car. Teach your child that if anyone attempts to grab them, they should yell and scream as loud as they can to call attention to themselves until help arrives.
6. Remember to use sidewalks when available. If sidewalks are not available, walk as close to the edge of the roadway as possible, in the opposite direction of traffic. Cross the street at marked crosswalks and instruct children to obey all traffic laws.
7. Carry a cell phone with you. Teach your children how to call 911 in case of an emergency. Ask them to remain alert and to report suspicious activity to you and or law enforcement.
8. Check your child's candy. Once safely back at home, before your kids dig in to their candy stash, make sure it has not been tampered with.
Editor's Note: These tips are courtesy the Pinellas County Sheriff's Office.