The Lafayette Parish Sheriff's Office wants everyone to have a fun and safe Halloween. Below are a few things to take into consideration and talk to your kids about before sending them out the door on Halloween.
- Most importantly, if you aren't going trick or treating with your kids, make sure you know the route they will be taking and make sure someone in the group has a cell phone with them.
- Let them know they should check in every hour by phone or, if possible, to stop back at home periodically Make sure that the number you want them to call is pre-programmed on the phone. Regardless if they leave with a cell phone or not, small children should never be allowed to trick or treat alone.
- Set a time for your kids to be home and make sure they know it's important to call if they are going to be delayed. Your kids should know not to deviate from the planned route you have agreed to.
- Not only on Halloween, but throughout the year, parents should log-on to the LPSO website at www.lafayettesheriff.com or other state websites to find information of where registered sex offenders are living. Using your address and zip code or an address or zip code in the areas your kids will be, you can look at a map with locations and addresses of registered offenders. It's always a good idea to avoid these homes.
- Some parents would rather send their children to a sponsored event. Even though it seems less dangerous, make sure to keep an eye on them at all times. When in an environment full of people that you may not know or in costumes where people are hard to recognize, it's always a good idea to keep a close eye on them. If the event or activity is at a private home, school, or mall, make sure you walk your child in and check out the venue. If they are going to be at a friend's home, make sure that you meet the parents.
Here are some other things to talk to your kids about:
- Remind your kids that it is never a good idea to talk to strangers or get into a car with a stranger. Explain, as simply as you can, that some adults are bad and may want to hurt children. If they feel they are in danger, they should draw attention to themselves by screaming as loud as possible and run to the nearest home with people.
- Make sure to stress to them not to get caught up in the excitement and rush from house to house. They should always look both ways before crossing the street and should only cross at corners or crosswalks. Older kids should always hold the hand of younger kids when crossing the street. It's always a good idea to take a flash light, safety light, or a reflective object when out at night.
- When picking a costume for a young child make sure it is safe. It should be fireproof, whether it's store bought or home made. If wearing a mask or other gear, make sure it does not block or interfere with peripheral vision or inhibit normal movement. If your child is carrying a prop that might be sharp, such as a plastic scythe, butcher knife or pitchfork, make sure that it is smooth and flexible enough not to cause injury if fallen on.
- Explain to kids of all ages the difference between tricks and vandalism. Throwing eggs may seem funny, however, kids need to know they will be held responsible for clean up and damages they've caused. Some people find Halloween an excuse to hurt cats and other animals. Explain to your kids that animal cruelty of any kind is never acceptable; harming animals is not only morally wrong, but punishable by law.
- Always check the contents of their Trick-or-treat candy haul. Try serving your kids a filling meal before Trick- or- treating so they won't be tempted to eat candy before bringing it home for you to check. Any unwrapped or suspicious items should be disregarded.
Make Halloween a fun, safe and happy time for your kids and they'll carry on the tradition that you taught them to their own families some day!