The streets will be crawling this Halloween with ghosts and goblins and other creatures of the night seeking bagsful of treats. So keeping them safe is the priority, Wauseon Police Chief Kevin Chittenden said.
Typically, he said, trick or treating on Halloween progresses relatively smoothly, and that’s the way he wants to keep it. But that means both parents and motorists must be on high alert.
“Most drivers understand it’s treat or treat time, and they’re pretty well-behaved,” Chittenden said. “It gets a little hectic but not where we’ve had any accidents. Kids can get excited, and that night you have to keep them on a short leash.”
Caution is especially important for motorists traveling through residential neighborhoods popular with trick or treaters. While he can’t recall any Halloween vehicle or pedestrian accidents in the past, the police chief said it’s best for drivers to slow down, even keeping under the posted speed limit.
“Kids are not paying attention to road safety,” he said.
As for children’s costumes, they should be fitted prior to hitting the streets to guarantee a good fit. Parents should make sure vision is not blocked in masks and that costume material is not so baggy that it causes the child to stumble. If the costume is dark, highlight it with reflective material.
And make certain young children are accompanied by a parent, older sibling or guardian, Chittenden said. Each year, the department receives several calls from residents about unattended children running in the streets.
Once home, the treats children have collected should be thoroughly inspected. All treats should have remained factory sealed, and homemade goodies given by strangers should not be trusted.
“If parents have any suspicion about any items handed out, just throw them away,” Chittenden said.
Halloween night always brings a few instances of vandalism, but most are minor, “nothing completely destructive or way out of line,” he said. Depending on the property owner’s wishes, the culprits can be charged with criminal mischief or held responsible to pay for damages or clean up the mess.
Fulton County Sheriff Roy Miller said Halloween traffic in rural parts of the county is minimal, since most people living there take their children to nearby towns for quick access.
However, there are some rural subdivisions that get trick or treat traffic, and Miller said precautions are the same in any area. He advised going to homes of people the parents know and having children wear brightly-colored costumes. If driving from house to house in the country, use four-way lights to alert other motorists of your slower movement.
“Be aware of traffic wherever you are,” Miller said.
He said deputies try to have a presence Halloween night in communities with no police departments, such as Lyons, Pettisville, and Metamora. He also warned that Halloween vandalism, however good-natured, can be subject to criminal charges.
Reach David J. Coehrs at 419-335-2010.