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Police Provide Halloween Safety Tips

Tonight, the ghouls and goblins will be out celebrating Halloween and trick-or-treating.

This weekend, several Halloween bashes are planned since the freakish day fell in the middle of the week.

Virginia State Police in a press release reminds residents to be safe, to watch for children, and be weary of drunken drivers on the streets. They compiled some tips:

It’s not the costumes or decorations that should frighten you this Halloween, but impaired drivers, who are the real “scare” on the road. Virginia State Police reminds everyone, if you plan to celebrate with alcohol, then don’t drink and drive. Halloween night is considered one of the deadliest nights of the year because of impaired drivers. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), from 2007-2011, 52 percent of all highway fatalities across the nation on Halloween night (6 p.m. Oct. 31 to 5:59 a.m. Nov. 1) were the result of a drunk driving-related crash.

Keep your holiday safe. If you’re planning a party Halloween night, remember:

• Before the party starts, plan a safe way home;

• Before drinking, designate a sober driver and give that person your keys;

• If you’re impaired, use a taxi, call a sober friend or family member, or use public transportation to get home safely;

• If you happen to see a drunk driver on the road, don’t hesitate to contact Virginia State Police by dialing #77 on your cell phone.

Neighborhood Safety

If you haven’t done so already, parents and guardians are encouraged to visit the Virginia Sex Offender and Crimes Against Minors Registry to identify the relevant addresses of convicted sex offenders possibly living or working in their neighborhoods. This enables adults and guardians to make informed decisions on what residences/businesses to approach for trick-or-treating.

Halloween night, the Virginia State Police Sex Offender Investigative Unit will be working with the Virginia Department of Corrections Probation and Parole to check on supervised sex offenders.

If the convicted sex offender is on supervision – which means restrictions have been placed on them as they relate to probation/parole and not state law – then they may not be permitted to participate in trick-or-treat activities (i.e. porch lights must be turned off; not permitted to open the door to trick-or-treaters, etc.). This restriction only applies if that offender’s conditions of probation/parole prohibit contact with children.

If the convicted sex offender is not on supervision, then they are entitled to participate in trick-or-treat and other Halloween activities. This does apply to convicted sex offenders featured on the Virginia Sex Offender Registry. The only exceptions relate to Code of Virginia 18.2-370.5, which restricts an offender’s access to school property.

Trick-or-Treat Pedestrian/Driver Safety

Drivers need to slow down and remain alert in residential areas and parking lots for children. Slowing down, eliminating any distraction inside your vehicle, and anticipating heavy pedestrian traffic are critical to avoiding serious injury or death to a young child or teen.

Children have a greater chance of being hit by a car on Halloween than on any other day of the year. Popular trick-or-treating hours are typically between 5:30 p.m. through 9:30 p.m.

The American Academy of Pediatrics, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the National Safety Council recommend the following safety tips for parents and their trick-or-treaters:

• Use flashlights and glowsticks to remain visible

• Stay on sidewalks, and avoid crossing yards.

• Cross streets at the corner, use crosswalks (where they exist), and do not cross between parked cars.

• Remind children to look left, right, and left again before crossing the street and walking among vehicles in a parking lot.

• Stop at all corners and stay together in a group before crossing.

• Wear clothing that is bright and flame retardant.

• Fasten reflective tape to costumes and trick-or-treat bags for greater visibility

• Consider using non-toxic face paint instead of masks. (Masks can obstruct a child’s vision.)

• Avoid wearing hats that will slide over their eyes.

• Avoid wearing long, baggy, or loose costumes or oversized shoes (to prevent tripping).

• Have children get in and out of vehicles on the curb side, not on the traffic side.

• Law enforcement authorities should be notified immediately of any suspicious activity

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