LA PLATA, Md. - To help keep the little ghosts and goblins searching for candy safe this Halloween, the Charles County Sheriffs Office will increase its patrols of residential areas and is reminding parents, children and motorists of important trick-or-treating safety tips.
As the Sheriff and as a parent, I know there are safety hazards we have to be cautious of during Halloween, said Charles County Sheriff Frederick E. Davis. The best way to prepare for Halloween is for parents to talk to their children about the dangers they could encounter and make sure kids know ahead of time what to do in an emergency.
The Sheriffs Office suggests parents remind their children to call 911 in an emergency or, if they are not near a phone, to yell for help. Parents and children should have a planned route and a designated meeting location should they get separated.
Charles County Sheriffs Office court security officers will scan Halloween candy through the x-ray machine at the Charles County Courthouse Halloween night from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. and Nov. 1 from 10 a.m. to noon. The x-ray will detect any metal objects that may be inside the candy but it can not detect any other substances, so parents are still encouraged to check over each piece of their childrens candy to ensure it hasnt been tampered with.
Weve been scanning candy since we acquired the x-ray machine about four years ago, said Sheriff Davis. I strongly urge parents to take advantage of this opportunity.
The Sheriffs Office is offering the following additional Halloween safety tips and encourages parents to share them with their children.
* Young children should always go trick-or-treating with an adult and older children should never trick-or-treat alone.
* Be careful crossing the streets; cross at the corner and be sure to look both ways.
* Stay to the side of the street or, where possible, on a sidewalk.
* Visit only homes you know.
* Do not eat candy that has not been inspected by a trusted adult, and do not eat any homemade treats or unpackaged foods like fruit.
* Never cut across yards or use alleys as short cuts.
* Never accept food or drink from strangers.
* Never enter a strangers home or car.
* Only visit well-lit homes.
* Carry a flashlight.
* Make sure your costume has something reflective on it so youre visible to passing motorists, that is short enough to prevent tripping, entanglement and contact with flames, and that it is flame resistant. Remember to Stop, Drop and Roll if your costume catches fire.
* Carry with you your emergency contact information.
* Obey traffic signals.
* Do not trick-or-treat past 8 p.m.
When Giving Candy:
* Offer only wrapped or packaged candy.
* Never give homemade treats. Not only are the ingredients not listed a threat to children with food allergies but parents are skeptical of these. Also, stay away from unpackaged foods like fruit.
* Remember that children are going to get A LOT of candy. Dont forget other possible gifts like crazy pencils, one-serving cereal boxes, stickers and tooth paste!
* Keep your lights on if youre participating and be sure to clear a safe path for trick-or-treaters. Remove items such as hoses and wet leaves to prevent falling and injury.
When Inspecting candy:
* Use your best judgment. Do not let children eat any homemade treats or unpackaged items.
* Make sure candy is tightly wrapped. If it looks like it was unwrapped and then re-wrapped, dont let your children eat it.
* Use caution, but not paranoia.
* When in doubt, throw it out.
* If you believe your candy has been tampered with, call the Sheriffs Office.
* Be cognizant of trick-or-treaters, pedestrians and pets as you drive through residential areas.
* Stop at all crosswalks.
* Remember, the posted speed limit is 25 mph through most residential areas, but that doesnt mean you must drive that fast. Slow down, especially in areas with a lot of pedestrian traffic.
* As always, dont drink and drive.
Parents should also know some occurrences that raise questions about the quality of confectionary products are in fact normal, according to the National Confectioners Association. For example, what appears to be glass may just be large sugar or salt crystals. Graying chocolate that resembles a light powder may be caused by exposure to heat or dampness. The association publishes a complete list of these occurrences on its Web site, http://www.candyusa.org. Such appearances should not be cause for concern but parents are urged to use their discretion. Suspicious candy should be reported to the Sheriffs Office.
Finally, the Sheriffs Office urges citizens to report suspicious activity, suspicious candy or any other unsafe situations, by contacting the District Stations at 301-932-2222 in La Plata, 301-743-2222 in Indian Head or 301-932-7777 in Waldorf. In an emergency, dial 911.