By Cobb Police
It is hard to believe but Halloween is only days away, and now is a good time to start discussing safe practices with your children.
Increased visibility is extremely important on Halloween night, and there are several inexpensive ways to help make sure your children can be seen. Glow in the dark bands can be worn around the neck, wrists or ankles and are a fun way to brighten up a child’s costume.
You can also place reflective tape on the sleeves and back of the costume and have each child carry a flashlight. You may want to write your cell phone number on the tape of younger children in case you get separated. If your children are young, you will likely accompany them, but even then with all of the excitement, they can be unpredictable.
Encourage everyone in the group to stay together and monitor them closely so that they don’t dash across the street and into the path of vehicles. If there is no sidewalk available, it is important to walk on the far edge of the road facing traffic.
Out of courtesy to your neighbors and to help prevent falls, children should use the driveway instead of cutting across the yard. For the older kids who plan to trick or treat without an adult, it is important to discuss what streets they will be visiting and set a specific time for them to be home.
Make sure they keep a cell phone with them and remind them that if they are in danger, they should call 911 first and then follow up with a parent. They should only visit houses that are well lit and should never enter a home or car or go to the rear of a house to get candy.
Encourage your kids to trust their instincts, and if a situation doesn’t feel right, get out of it.
There are many families that do not live in a subdivision or live in one that is very large. Often these parents will drive through the neighborhood stopping every few houses to let their kids out. The combination of a large number of young excited pedestrians along with an increase in vehicular traffic can present a dangerous situation.
Consider posting signs at the entrance to your subdivision asking people as a courtesy to park their vehicle and walk with their kids from house to house. This will go a long way toward creating a safer environment for everyone.
While discussing Halloween safety tips with your children, take the opportunity to introduce or reinforce personal safety and “stranger danger” concepts. Family Watchdog is a free service that provides a wealth of safety tips specifically for children. The site allows you to enter your address to view a map of all registered sex offenders in your area and includes their address, photo and the type of crime for which they were convicted.
You can also sign up to receive alerts when an offender moves near you or moves away. Family Watchdog's information on this site is provided to you to increase awareness of potential dangers and to provide visual reinforcement to your children that these criminals are real and they live among us.
It also affords the opportunity to show your children that sex offenders do not look like the “boogie man." They come in all shapes and sizes, all races and ages, and can be male or female.
But as the website states, this information is not provided so that citizens can initiate contact with offenders for the purpose of harassment or to try to get them to move away.