As children dust off their trick or treat pails and illuminate those glow sticks with a crack, parents and motorists are reminded of a few tips that can help to ensure a happy and safe Halloween this year.
The Cape Coral Police Department, along with other local law enforcement agencies and health officials, are offering some basic safety suggestions to make it a great holiday for all. For drivers, the easiest things that they can do is to be mindful that children will be out Thursday and slow down.
"We would generally encourage good driving habits for everybody 365 days a year, but Halloween presents a special set of challenges for drivers because you have an inordinate number of children out and about," Sgt. Dana Coston, a CCPD spokesman, said. "For motorists, it's fairly straightforward."
Drivers who slow down give themselves extra time to react if a child runs in front of their vehicle.
According to the Lee County Injury Prevention Coalition, drivers traveling 30 mph have a 50 percent chance of killing a person they hit. At 40 mph, drivers have a 85 percent chance of killing the person.
On average, twice as many child pedestrians are killed on Halloween compared to any other day.
Halloween safety tips
- Children should not trick or treat alone. A parent or guardian should go along to supervise the fun.
- Plan a trick-or-treat route ahead of time. Stick to houses in your neighborhood that you know. If venturing out beyond your neighborhood, only trick or treat at homes that are well lit. Take advantage of "Safe Trick-or-Treat" events in the area.
- Cross streets only at corners. Darting across the street in front of vehicles could end the festivities.
- That dark ninja costume or Darth Vader costume looks great, but is hard to see. Carry a light source with you, like a flashlight or glow stick - or a light saber if you are Darth Vader.
- Choose costumes that do not obstruct vision. Trick-or-treaters should be looking out for vehicles as much as drivers should be looking out for them. Opt for nontoxic face paint instead of masks.
- Add reflective material to a child's costume and adjust the length of any costume that may cause a child to trip.
Source: Cape Coral Police Department
On Halloween, children are inclined to run back and forth across the street as they collect candy, Coston noted. They are also wearing costumes, and some may be dark colored or hard to see.
"It adds to the complexity at a time of day where it's already difficult to see," he said.
Drivers should make sure their headlights are on, and use a designated driver if consuming alcohol.
"Just use a little bit more of extra care," Coston said.
Cape police will be on the lookout for traffic violations like speeding, careless driving and DUI.
As for trick-or-treating, parents or an adult should supervise the children.
"So that the kids just aren't running willy-nilly through neighborhood," he said.
Plan out a route to follow, and stick to homes you know or that are well lit.
"It reduces incidents of kids wandering where parents don't know where they're going to do," Coston said, adding that planning ahead can provide structure to what can be a wild evening for the youth.
Safe Halloween events at churches and such are an alternative to traditional trick-or-treating.
"Maybe consider taking advantage of that, especially for the smaller kids," he said.
Children should carry a light source with them, like a glow stick or flashlight, or parents should incorporate a lighted element into the costume. Using reflective material is another option.
The Fort Myers Police Department will also be looking for speeders, reckless and impaired drivers. The department will step up DUI enforcement to include roving patrols targeting drunk drivers.
"There isn't a Halloween costume clever enough to hide an impaired driver who has made the poor decision to get behind the wheel," spokeswoman Shelly Flynn reported in a prepared statement.
"Whether you've had one too many or way too many, it is just not worth the risk," she added.
The FMPD offered the following suggestions for adult party-goers:
n Take the keys. Do not let a friend drive if they are impaired.
n Be a helpful host. If you are hosting a party, remind your guests to designate a sober driver, always offer alcohol-free beverages and make sure all of your guests leave with a sober driver.
n If you see an impaired driver on the road, call police.
Within Fort Myers, there is a city Youth Protection Ordinance that requires children to be home by 9 p.m. unless accompanied by a parent or adult authorized by the parent of the minor to have custody of the minor, or with a person 21 or older who has the parent's permission to be in charge of that minor.