Recommended Trick or Treating Hours in St John Parish: October 31, 6-8 p.m.
For Parents Only – As an added safety tool, please visit the sex offender search function to identify houses in your neighborhood where you might not want your kids to visit this Halloween.
Sheriff Mike Tregre says “Parents and children should prepare for a safe and fun filled Halloween” Halloween is not a state holiday. It is not an official holiday. But, it is becoming one of the fastest growing celebrations of the year. “Unfortunately, Halloween’s heightened popularity can also mean the greater the possibility for a variety of dangers and crimes,” Sheriff Tregre warns.
Why? The Sheriff continues, “Simply because criminals can commit crimes in disguise without ever arousing suspicion. And, it’s the one time of the year that homeowners willingly open their doors to strangers, expecting trick-or-treaters.”
Whether you celebrate Halloween by going on a hay ride, carving pumpkins, going trick-or- treating or throwing a costume party, there are ways in which some common sense precautions can ensure safety and reduce the possibility of becoming a victim of crime or an unfortunate accident.
Although it is not possible to anticipate all of the dangers that can occur, Sheriff Tregre offers some straight forward tips for parents and children on helping to create a happy Halloween experience before, during and after the ghosts and goblins have faded away. Let’s take a look.
- Plan costumes and accessories that are bright, reflective, fit well and are flame
- For greater visibility, add reflective tape or striping to costumes and
- Secure emergency identification (name, address, phone number) discreetly within Halloween attire or on a bracelet.
- Consider non-toxic makeup as an alternative to masks that can block eyesight.
- Think twice before using simulated knives, guns or swords. If they are used, be certain they do not appear authentic and are soft and flexible to prevent injury.
- Plan and review with your children the route and behavior which is
acceptable to you.
- Plan ahead to use only battery powered lanterns or chemical light sticks in place of
candles in decorations and costumes.
- This is also a great time to buy fresh batteries for your home Smoke Alarms.
- Teach children how to 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 free at any pay
- Review with children the principle of “Stop-Drop-Roll,” should their clothes catch
- Openly discuss appropriate and inappropriate behavior at Halloween time.
- Consider purchasing individually packaged candies and treats for Trick-or-
- Clear pathways on your porch and walkway to avoid trips and falls.
- Consider safe party guidelines when hosting an adult of office party.
- A parent or responsible adult should always accompany young children.
By using a flashlight, one can see and be seen by others.Remind Trick-or-Treaters:
- Stay in a group and communicate where they will be going.
- Only go to homes with 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 rules.
- Always walk across a street. Never run.
- Only cross the street as a group in established crosswalks.
- Remove any mask that will limit eyesight before crossing a street, driveway or
- Do not assume the right of way. Motorists may have trouble seeing Trick-or-
- Never consume food items or drinks 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
- Wait until children are home to sort and check treats. A responsible adult should closely examine all treats and throw away any spoiled, unwrapped or suspicious items.
- Try to apportion treats for the days following Halloween.
- Although sharing is encouraged, make sure items that can cause choking (such as hard candies), are given only to those of an appropriate age.
If you suspect Candy Tampering, contact the St. John Parish Sheriff’s Office, dial 9-1-1, our dispatchers have access to the Chocolate Manufactures Association Halloween Candy Hotline to assist in the investigations concerning candy tampering.
Sheriff Mike Tregre concludes, “Remember, a few simple safety precautions can mean all the difference between a fun and memorable celebration, or one spoiled by an avoidable incident. Keep safe and have a great Halloween.”
Many of us remember a time when children could go trick-or-treating without worrying about anything worse than a stomachache. But Halloween safety has been a matter of concern for many years, and now, with new worries about terrorist attacks arising every day, the wisdom of letting your children run free for Halloween seems even more doubtful. A lot of parents will be tempted to nix trick-or-treating altogether.
This strategy minimizes the risk, but at a fairly high cost: Halloween is important to many children. If you apply common-sense guidelines and take a realistic view of the likely risks, whether terrorist related or not, it should be possible for you and your
children to feel comfortable while celebrating the holiday.
Trick-or-Treating in Malls
Since the September 11 attacks and the subsequent anthrax scares, many parents are
worried about bringing their families to malls and other public places such as stadiums
and movie theaters. While we are not experts on terrorism, common sense suggests
that the chances that terrorists will mount some sort of attack in any place your
individual family happens to be on Halloween is very small. However, if even this
remote risk makes you feel uncomfortable, there is nothing wrong with planning a
different way to celebrate Halloween, be it trick-or-treating in the neighborhood or with
Trick-or-treating in the Neighborhood
The keys to safe trick-or-treating are supervising your children closely and inspecting
the candy and other treats they bring home before letting them dig in. The safest
strategy, which is probably fine with younger children, is to go with them, and only go
to homes you know. Older children may demand more freedom, but you can still set
Supervision. The single most important safety step is to make sure that your
children have adult supervision while trick-or-treating. If your children are still young enough not to mind your company while they make their rounds, you should walk with them every step of the way. Older kids sometimes object to this, but you can still insist that you wait for them at the end of every block.
Children supervising children. Many parents rely on their older children to supervise their younger ones, but this isn’t always realistic. Halloween is an exciting holiday for older
kids, too, and the temptation to go off and do their own thing might well overwhelm their sense of responsibility. Besides, older siblings often are embarrassed by parading around with their little brothers or sisters in tow.
Going out in groups. After age 12 or 13, children might not need direct parental supervision, but they should still go trick-or-treating in groups of at least three or four. Don’t allow this unless you trust that your neighborhood is basically safe, you know most (if not all) of the other children, and your child usually shows good judgment. Cell phones can be a big help here, allowing you to check in with your child from time to time. Some children, however, will still need to have a parent on the corner. Your own instincts
should be your guide.
Inspecting the treats. The only way to be completely certain of the safety of Halloween goodies is to know the people who gave them out. That’s probably a good rule of thumb in any case. Since it might be hard to detect apples, oranges, and other fruit that’s been tampered with, it’s probably best to throw out any of these items (and not to give them out at your own door either). Few children mourn the loss of fruit on Halloween; it’s not supposed to be a nutritious holiday! The same goes for homemade baked goods and unwrapped candies. Candy in sealed wrappers is probably safe. If the wrappers look
damaged at all, it’s best to throw out those pieces.
Alternatives to going Door-to-Door. Many preteens and teens opt not to trick-or-treat at all; instead, a party with costumes and spooky decorations may be just the thing. Also, if you’re not confident that your neighborhood is safe, consider alternatives to door-to-door trick-or-treating. One is to have a party either in your home, a neighborhood center, or a school. Another is to plan a traveling Halloween party, where you go to several different homes, all pre-arranged.
Striking a Balance. Halloween is a favorite holiday for many children, and, even with the problems in our world right now, they should be encouraged to celebrate. All but the smallest children are aware that we are facing new threats. It’s important for parents to teach their children that they can take reasonable precautions and still enjoy life. The “trick” in this year’s trick-or-treating seems to be doing what feels right to you as a parent to keep your children safe while helping them to have fun.
Halloween is supposed to be fun and exciting for children, but not truly frightening. However, children in preschool and early elementary school often are scared by masks and costumes that older children and adults find merely amusing.
Knowing that People don’t Really Change
By age six or seven, children know that a person’s identity doesn’t change if he puts on different clothes or covers up his face with a mask. Before then, they are less sure. So even though a little girl really knows that the person behind the mask is her older brother, she’s not entirely sure that donning the mask hasn’t changed him in some frightening way.
Young children even can be frightened of themselves. If they look into a mirror and see a scary witch or a monster–or a friendly creature, for that matter– they may not be completely sure that they haven’t been transformed. This perception can be so overpowering that even a parent’s reassurances won’t always comfort them.
How Children Show their Fright
They may not show their fright in the ways we’d expect them to. Instead of crying or acting scared, they might run around and act unusually goofy. They even might become aggressive, pushing or shoving other children. Recognize this as a plea for adult attention, not bad behavior–reassure your child, distract him by engaging him in a fun Halloween activity, or, if all else fails, change him into a costume that makes him less anxious.
Taking the “Boo” Out
One way to make dressing up less frightening from the start is to plan a costume that doesn’t cover over your child’s face completely or change it so that it is unrecognizable. Makeup can be a better choice than a full mask, regular clothing might be preferable to an elaborate store-bought costume. And until you’re sure that your child is enjoying her new image, don’t fall into that common parenting game of pretending that a child actually has turned into her character. That may be great fun for some children, but frightening for others.