COLUMN: Tips and events for Halloween

Submitted photo.
Ellis County Sheriff Johnny Brown.

Halloween is right around the corner so it’s time again when we all need to remind ourselves of the tips that will help keep everyone safe this holiday.

One of the most important reminders is for drivers to stay alert around all of the little and not so little ones that’ll be running around all excited about getting their bags full of candy. Especially if no one’s with them to watch them, kids won’t hesitate to dart out in front of a vehicle to get to that house across the street. The only thing on their mind is to get some more candy.

You need to keep this in mind when you’re coming home Halloween evening after a long day at work or you’re driving your own trick-or-treaters around. Some of the neighborhoods are overrun with kiddoes – and we don’t need something bad to happen. Put that cell phone down and pay attention. Trick-or-treating may start in the daylight but it often wraps up after dark, which makes it all the more important to stay focused and not let yourself get distracted.

Please don’t let your kids go trick-or-treating alone; if you can’t be with them, then you need to make sure there’s a trusted adult with them who’ll make sure they stay safe. When they’re out of your car, they need to walk from house to house; don’t let them be running around because that’s when they’re more likely to trip and hurt themselves. Look for well-lit houses that have their porch lights on as a sign of welcome for trick-or-treaters and don’t let your kids go into a house unless you’re with them.

Trick-or-treaters should look both ways before crossing any street and only use designated crosswalks. They need to walk on the sidewalks and, if there aren’t any, they need to face traffic and walk at the far edge of the roadway. If you’re going to have your kids out after dark, you need to carry flashlights and make sure your kids’ costumes include reflective material or attach some reflective tape to them.

A good way to keep your kids from eating candy before you’ve had a chance to look at it is to feed them before you get out there trick-or-treating. If they’re already full, they may be less likely to snack on the goodies before you inspect them. You should only let your kids eat factory-wrapped candies – and all of them need to be inspected first. Signs of tampering to look out for include pinholes, tears and odd appearances and discolorations. Don’t eat homemade treats made by strangers and, if something looks suspicious, throw it away, along with any candy or other treat that would be a choking hazard around very small children.

Costumes should be flame-resistant and fit well so they’re not a trip hazard. Make sure masks and other headwear don’t block vision or impede breathing. Any accessories need to be flexible and soft to help prevent an injury if there’s a fall. When walking around with your children, keep an eye out for obstacles that might cause them to trip.

Homeowners should ensure their properties are as safe as possible for any trick-or-treaters that come their way. Candlelit items don’t need to be left unattended and should be kept away from doorsteps, walkways and decorations and out of reach of pets and small children.

Here are a few events being hosted around Ellis County that you may want to attend with your children. On Friday, Oct. 30, the city of Midlothian will hold its downtown trick-or-treating from 4 p.m. - 6 p.m. at Heritage Park, while the city of Waxahachie holds its trick-or-treating on the square from 3 p.m. - 5 p.m. that same day.

On Saturday, Oct. 31, the city of Ennis will hold its downtown trick-or-treating from 8 a.m. - 1 p.m., while the ninth annual Waxahachie Fall Festival is slated for 6:30 p.m. - 8:30 p.m. at the Waxahachie Civic Center that same day.

Please, everyone, let’s keep our military and service personnel in our thoughts and prayers. We enjoy our rights and freedoms because of their service and safekeeping of our great nation. Y’all have a Blessed Week.

Johnny Brown has served as Sheriff of Ellis County since Jan. 1, 2009, and is a graduate of the National Sheriff’s Institute. He has been in law enforcement for more than 20 years and holds a Master’s Peace Officer’s Certificate with the Texas Commission on Law Enforcement Officer Standards and Education.