Navigating Halloween unharmed

by Town Reminder

South Hadley Police offer tips for parents, children

By Kristin Will
Staff Writer

SOUTH HADLEY – While young children dressed to the nines in festive costumes may be intent on spooking a few or collecting a mass of sweet treats on Halloween next Thursday, Oct. 31, the South Hadley Police Department is committed to keeping the streets safe and parents aware of potential dangers.
Although there aren’t any hours set in stone for trick-or-treating, Police Chief David LaBrie said the activity usually begins around dusk and continues until 9 p.m.
“I would urge parents to start early,” he said, when there still is daylight left, especially for those with young children.
“Parents should accompany all children,” he added.
Older children and tweens will most likely want to canvas the neighborhood on their candy-collecting adventure when it is much more dark.
Despite their desire for darkness, they should bring a light source along with them. Whether it be a flashlight, lantern or a handful of glow sticks, South Hadley Police Lt. Steven Parentela stressed the importance of making oneself visible to neighborhood traffic.
“Being visible is a huge safety factor,” he said.
Not only do the lights help parents keep track of their children, they also help illuminate dark costumes to those on the road.
LaBrie suggested purchasing costumes with florescent pieces of material.
“That is helpful,” he said. “Statically, Halloween is the most prevalent night for children to be hit by cars,” he said.
All trick-or-treaters should make their neighborhood rounds on the sidewalk, and not in the road.
“It’s better for pedestrians to walk against traffic,” said Parentela, “so they can see the cars coming.”
He reminds children not to play games or run in the streets.
Also key for costume wearers is dressing appropriately for the weather.
Temperatures more akin to autumn than the end of summer have moved in this past week and are for sure here to stay.
Parents should pair leggings with costume dresses or add long johns under pants. If cold enough, jackets should be worn.
Houses illuminated with porch lights, floodlights and lanterns are clearly advertising their participation in trick-or-treating. Don’t bother with the dark homes.
“When trick-or-treating, if you come to a house that’s dark or don’t feel comfortable going to, skip that house,” said LaBrie.
Homeowners should remember to turn off their outdoor lights to signal the end of their participation – or empty candy bowl.
Before children begin to empty their candy bags and fill their stomachs, parents should filter through their sweet bounty to check for punctured plastic casings, unwrapped candies, unsealed packaging or any piece that looks to be tampered.
“Try to remember what candy children received and from where,” said Parentela.
A good way for parents to keep vigilant is to ask their children to show them what they received right after they visited a home.
Finally, LaBrie reminds residents to contact the police department if they see any suspicious activity.
The department will have extra officers patrolling neighborhoods to make sure the streets and the trick-or-treaters are kept safe.
The South Hadley Police Department can be reached at (413) 538-8231.