Houses are lit up orange. Lawns are decorated with plastic tombstones, synthetic spider webs and ghoulish creatures, some who speak to us as we approach, some who are just meant to look scary, and others who are simply there to elicit a chuckle and entertain us.
It must be Halloween.
Tomorrow night, many homeowners in St. Mary’s County will wait with their porch lights on for trick-or-treaters who come in search of those ritual candy bars and other goodies. Some little ones have already stocked up on sweets at church and other organizations’ trunk-or-treats held over the past couple of weeks. But Oct. 31 itself is generally considered the big one, a major sugar haul.
From Wonder Woman to witches, to characters from popular video games, expect to find kids of all ages taking to the streets and knocking on neighbors’ doors, hoping to get a sugary treat to add to their growing bag of Halloween goodies.
If you’re driving this evening, look out for any potential trick-or-treaters. Be especially mindful of crosswalks and corners, and take things slow within neighborhoods, particularly where parked cars line the side of the road. You never know when an excited child might dart out into the roadway.
But drivers aren’t the only ones responsible for ensuring St. Mary’s kids enjoy a safe and happy Halloween. Parents of trick-or-treaters can also take safety precautions. In fact, the Maryland State Fire Marshal’s Office offers the following tips for families.
Pick costumes that are bright and reflective and short enough to prevent tripping. Ensure masks don’t block kids’ vision. For darker costumes — and even for lighter costumes — consider adding reflective tape for greater visibility when kids are walking along the roadside. Better still, the State Highway Administration is offering free glowing bracelets as part of its new “Lighting Up for Safety” program.
“This initiative allows us to spread the word about the importance of pedestrian safety with both walkers and drivers,” said Tina Regester, safety and education marketing manager for SHA. “We ask all drivers to remember to drive smart and look out for pedestrians, and pedestrians should walk smart by looking both ways before crossing the street and wearing something reflective like our light-up bracelets.” Trick-or-treaters can pick up their bracelets today, Wednesday, Oct. 30, from 3 to 6 p.m. at the Giant grocery in First Colony in California. Children will also receive bookmarks containing safety tips.
“Planning ahead can help make this and every Halloween fire safe,” State Fire Marshal Brian S. Geraci added in a press release. “Taking simple fire and life safety precautions, like making sure fabrics for costumes and decorative materials are flame-resistant, can prevent fires and avoid needless burn injuries.”
The fire marshal also has safety suggestions for those who are staying at home to hand out sweets. Use flashlights or glow sticks as alternatives to candles or incandescent lights when decorating walkways or yards, as these items are safer for trick-or-treaters whose costumes may brush against the decoration. Use battery-operated candles as opposed to flame candles inside the home as well, and do not overload electrical outlets and extension cords.
If everyone, from drivers to candy collectors to candy givers, follows these tips, we can collectively help to make sure the youngest among us enjoy this classic night without incident.