The Jacksonville Sheriff's Office encourages parents to spend some time talking with their children about Halloween safety.
- Check the Florida Department of Law Enforcement website for sexual offenders and predators living in your neighborhood.
- Choose Halloween costumes that are bright and reflective. Make sure that shoes fit properly and that costumes are short enough to prevent tripping, entanglement or contact with fire.
- For greater visibility, add reflective tape or striping to costumes and trick-or-treat bags.
- Secure emergency identification (name, address and phone number) discreetly within Halloween attire or on a bracelet. This should not be visible to strangers, but can be accessed by the child or trusted adult in an emergency.
- Because a mask can limit or block eyesight, consider non-toxic and hypoallergenic makeup or a decorative hat as a safe alternative.
- When shopping for costumes, wigs and accessories remember to purchase only those with a label indicating they are flame resistant.
- Think twice before using simulated knives, guns or swords. If such props must be used, be certain they do not appear authentic and are soft and flexible, to prevent injury.
- Put fresh batteries in flashlights for all children and their escorts to use while trick-or-treating.
- Plan ahead: Use only battery powered lanterns or chemical light sticks in place of candles in decorations and costumes.
- This is also a great time to put fresh batteries in your home smoke detectors. (Daylight Savings Time will be ending around this time of year.)
- Teach children their parent or guardian’s phone number and to how call 9-1-1 (or their local emergency number) if they have an emergency or become lost. Remind them that 9-1-1 can be dialed from any phone FREE OF CHARGE.
- Review with your children the procedure of "Stop-Drop-Roll", should their clothes and/or costume catch on fire.
- Openly discuss appropriate and inappropriate Halloween time behavior.
- Purchase individually packaged treats, healthy food alternatives or safe non-food treats for those who visit your home.
- Eliminate tripping hazards around your home, specifically on your porch and walkway. Check around your property for flower pots, low tree limbs, support wires or garden hoses that may prove hazardous to little visitors rushing from house to house.
- Learn or review CPR skills so you can aid someone who is choking or having a heart attack.
- Be Here For Kids Campaign (Formerly The "Take 25" Program) This national campaign encourages families, educators, law enforcement and trusted adults to talk to children about safety and ways to prevent abduction. Discussion guides for different age groups along with materials for adults are available under the "Learn" section at www.behereforkids.org.
Before Nightfall on Halloween:
- A good meal prior to parties and trick-or-treating will discourage youngsters from filling up on Halloween treats.
- Consider fire safety when decorating. Do not overload electrical outlets with holiday lighting or special effects, and do not block exit doors.
- While children can help with the fun of designing a Jack O' Lantern, leave the carving to adults.
- Always keep Jack O' Lanterns and hot electric lamps far away from drapes, decorations, flammable materials or areas where children and pets will be standing or walking.
- Plan and review with your children the route and behavior which is acceptable to you.
- Do not permit children to bike, roller-blade or skateboard in their costume
- Agree on a specific time when trick-or-treaters must return home.
- Trick-or-treaters and their escorts should carry flashlights, wear a wristwatch and carry coins for non-emergency phone calls or a mobile phone.
- Confine, segregate or otherwise prepare household pets for an evening of frightful sights and sounds. Be sure that all dogs and cats are wearing collars and proper identification tags. Make sure they cannot dart out of the house when the door is opened. Consult your veterinarian for further advice.
- Remind all household drivers to remain cautious and drive slowly throughout the community.
- Adult partygoers should establish and reward a designated driver.
- Remove signs from your yard and place back in your yard on November 1st.
A parent or responsible adult should always accompany young children on their neighborhood rounds. Per the Florida Department of Children and Families website: "The National SAFE KIDS Campaign recommends that children not be left alone before the age of 12. Many other children will not be ready until later than that. Also, experts caution that older siblings are generally not ready for the responsibility of supervising younger children until the age of 15 or older."
- By using a flashlight, they can see and be seen by others.
- Stay in a group, walk slowly and communicate where you are going.
- Only trick-or-treat in well-known neighborhoods at homes that have a porch light on.
- Remain on well-lit streets and always use the sidewalk.
- If no sidewalk is available, walk at the farthest edge of the roadway facing traffic.
- Never cut across yards or use alleys.
- Never enter a stranger's home or car for a treat.
- Obey all traffic and pedestrian regulations.
- Always walk. Never run across a street.
- Only cross the street as a group in established crosswalks.
- Remove any mask or item that will limit eyesight before crossing a street, driveway o [Alert Today Alive Tomorrow Logo] r alley.
- Don't assume the right of way. Motorists may have trouble seeing Trick-or-Treaters. Just because one car stops, doesn't mean others will. For more traffic safety tips, please visit the Alert Today, Alive Tomorrow webpage at www.jaxsheriff.org/departments/sheriff-s-office/patrol-division/alert-today-alive-tomorrow-cyclist,-driver-and.aspx
- Never consume unwrapped food items or open beverages that may be offered.
- No treats are to be eaten until they are thoroughly checked by an adult at home.
- Law Enforcement authorities should be notified immediately of any suspicious or unlawful activity. For non-emergencies please call (904) 630-0500, for emergencies please call 9-1-1.
- Both adults and children should have access to a first-aid kit throughout the night.
- Both adults and children should be reminded to use trashcans for trash – not the ground!
- Wait until children are home to sort and check treats. Though tampering is rare, a responsible adult should closely examine all treats and throw away any spoiled, unwrapped or suspicious items.
- Try to divide treats for the days following Halloween so it lasts.
- Make sure items that can cause choking (such as hard candies), are given only to those of an appropriate age.
- Keep chocolate and other candy away from pets...it’s toxic to them!
For Teens and Adults:
- Use safe party guidelines when hosting an adult or office party. For example: if alcohol is served, collect keys from the individuals that are drinking or make sure there is a designated driver to take them home. Make sure no one under the age of 21 is allowed to drink in your home.
- Adults hosting parties should remind guests that the party is invitation-only, and illegal substances are NOT welcome!
- Adults attending parties should never accept a drink from someone they don’t know, and should never leave their drink unattended.
- If attending a party alone, make sure to tell someone where you are going and when you will be back. (including adults)
- Remain vigilant and stay with a friend at all times
- Don’t offer rides to strangers! If someone is under the influence, call them a cab instead.
- Teens attending parties should be reminded to say “no” to drugs and alcohol, and to never get in the car with someone who is under the influence.
- Synthetic Drugs - Teens and young adults are falling victim to the "lie" that "fake weed" can't hurt them, please be vigilant about this issue. K-2 - Spice - Molly and other SYNTHETIC DRUGS can be deadly. Through our partnership with the North Florida High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area program, we've obtained federal funding to produce two commercials regarding K-2, Spice, Molly and other Synthetic Drugs.
From the archives... Below are links to two popular public service announcements to watch with your "tween" and teenagers:
Public Service Announcement: Big Fat Lie -- http://tinyurl.com/psabigfatlie
Public Service Announcement: Mother of Victim – http://tinyurl.com/psamovic
More information and safety tips can be found under the "Community Education Brochures and Videos" section on www.jaxsheriff.org.