Be safe and en­joy tonight’s fun and frights

Maryland Independent - - Community Forum -

Houses are lit up or­ange. Lawns are dec­o­rated with plas­tic tomb­stones, syn­thetic spi­der webs and ghoul­ish crea­tures, some who speak to us as we ap­proach, some who are just meant to look scary, and oth­ers who are sim­ply there to elicit a chuckle and en­ter­tain us. It must be Hal­loween. Tonight, many home­own­ers in Charles County will wait with their porch lights on for trick-or-treaters who come in search of those rit­ual candy bars and and other good­ies. Some lit­tle ones have al­ready stocked up on sweets at church and other or­ga­ni­za­tions’ trunk-or-treats held over the past cou­ple of weeks. But tonight is gen­er­ally con­sid­ered the big one, a ma­jor sugar haul.

From Won­der Woman to witches, to char­ac­ters from the pop­u­lar video game Fort­nite, ex­pect to find kids of all ages tak­ing to the streets and knock­ing on neigh­bors’ doors, hop­ing to get a sug­ary treat to add to their grow­ing bag of Hal­loween good­ies.

If you’re driv­ing this evening, look out for any po­ten­tial trick-or-treaters. Be espe­cially mind­ful of cross­walks and cor­ners, and take things slow within neigh­bor­hoods, par­tic­u­larly where parked cars line the side of the road. You never know when an ex­cited child might dart out into the road­way.

But driv­ers aren’t the only ones re­spon­si­ble for en­sur­ing Charles County kids en­joy a safe and happy Hal­loween. Par­ents of trick-or-treaters can also take safety pre­cau­tions.

In fact, the Mary­land State Fire Mar­shal’s Of­fice of­fers the fol­low­ing tips for fam­i­lies:

Pick cos­tumes that are bright and re­flec­tive and short enough to pre­vent trip­ping. En­sure masks don’t block kids’ vi­sion. For darker cos­tumes — and even for lighter cos­tumes — con­sider adding re­flec­tive tape for greater vis­i­bil­ity when kids are walk­ing along the road­side. Bet­ter still, the State High­way Ad­min­is­tra­tion also of­fers re­flec­tive vests through its “Vests for Vis­i­bil­ity” pro­gram. Vests can be bor­rowed from the Mary­land Depart­ment of Trans­porta­tion La Plata shop on Wash­ing­ton Av­enue in La Plata from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. They will be handed out on a first-come, first­served ba­sis, and should be re­turned by Fri­day, Nov. 2.

In ad­di­tion, guardians of trick-or­treaters should pro­vide young­sters with flash­lights or glow sticks to carry for light­ing, and al­ways su­per­vise them dur­ing trick-or-treat­ing. If walk­ing with the fam­ily dog, con­sider adding re­flec­tive ma­te­rial to the leash.

“Plan­ning ahead can help make this and ev­ery Hal­loween fire safe,” State Fire Mar­shal Brian S. Geraci added in a press re­lease. “Tak­ing sim­ple fire and life safety pre­cau­tions, like mak­ing sure fab­rics for cos­tumes and dec­o­ra­tive ma­te­ri­als are flame-re­sis­tant, can pre­vent fires and avoid need­less burn in­juries.”

The fire mar­shal also has safety sug­ges­tions for those who are stay­ing at home to hand out sweets. Use flash­lights or glow sticks as al­ter­na­tives to can­dles or in­can­des­cent lights when dec­o­rat­ing walk­ways or yards, as th­ese items are safer for trick-or­treaters whose cos­tumes may brush against the dec­o­ra­tion. Use bat­tery-op­er­ated can­dles as op­posed to flame can­dles in­side the home as well, and do not over­load elec­tri­cal out­lets and ex­ten­sion cords when plug­ging in all the fun and fright­en­ing decor.

If ev­ery­one, from driv­ers to candy col­lec­tors to candy givers, fol­lows th­ese tips for a safe Hal­loween, we can col­lec­tively help to make sure the youngest among us en­joy this clas­sic, spook-tac­u­lar night with­out in­ci­dent.

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