On Duty with the CHP: Be safe on Halloween

CHP officer Traci Gallian
CHP officer Traci Gallian sflores@fresnobee.com

It’s that time of year for princesses, goblins, ghouls, and witches. Do you remember being a kid and getting so excited about what you were going to be for Halloween? When you’re young you can be anything you want to be.

From the candy to the costumes, Halloween is a fun-filled time for kids and parents alike, but it can also pose dangers to young people. How do we keep the kids safe while having fun?

First, accompany children under 12 years old. Make sure they know how to call 911 in case you get separated or they get lost. Check to make sure they know their home phone number. A good idea is to write your phone number on a piece of paper and have your child carry it with them.

Make the night fun! Dress up with your kids. Make it a theme night and have matching outfits. When a parent and child come to my door dressed up, I always give more candy to the kid.

Second, for older kids who are trick-or-treating on their own, discuss the route they will be taking and when they will be expected home. Carry a cellphone. Go in a group and stay together. It’s more fun to hang out with your group anyway.

Only go to houses with porch lights illuminated. Walk on sidewalks and on lighted streets. Never walk in alleys! Walk facing traffic when on the street. The lights from vehicles will illuminate you and your group, making it easier for the driver nearest you to see you. Never go inside a home or vehicle of a person you do not know.

When crossing the street, always use crosswalks and never assume vehicles will stop for you. Take a flashlight, wear a glow necklace or carry a glow stick. Limit your trick-or-treating to neighborhoods you know and are very familiar with. When your kids get home, check all the treats to make sure they are sealed.

When I was young and we went trick-or-treating, my parents made it a practice to take all the candy we collected and dump it on the floor in the middle of the living room. This practice was, of course, “For safety!”

As my mom and dad took the time to make sure the candy was OK for our consumption, they would take their own personal stash. I don’t think we ever had a Snickers or an Almond Joy at any point in our younger years. Smarties and Dum Dums were always in abundance and we just got used to making them our favorite. At the end of the night, along with my cousins, we would have pie and ice cream and celebrate yet another successful haul.

Third, drive extra carefully on Halloween night. Slow down and be especially alert in residential neighborhoods. Kids are excited, may move in unpredictable ways, and pop out of anywhere at anytime.

Take extra time to look for children at intersections – they may be wearing costumes that can be difficult to see. Enter and exit driveways slowly and carefully.

As always, when operating a motor vehicle eliminate any distractions inside your vehicle. Concentrate on the road and your surroundings. Drive slowly, anticipate heavy pedestrian traffic, and turn your headlights on earlier in the day to spot children from greater distances.

The popular trick-or-treating hours are 5:30 to 9:30 p.m., so be especially alert for kids during these hours. Residential area speed limits are 25 mph.

What this meansis slow down, take your time in the residential districts, watch for the little ones, and remember back when you were a kid having fun and scoring some good candy! Enjoy the holiday everyone and make it a “spooktacular” Halloween!

California Highway Patrol Officer Traci Gallian’s “On Duty” column publishes bimonthly. She can be reached at tagallian@chp.ca.gov.