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Halloween night – avoid the real scares

pumpkin patrol Halloween safety

Patrolling the streets as Pumpkin Patrol, 50th Security Forces Squadron Airmen keep trick-or-treaters safe on Halloween night in the Tierra Vista Communities at Schriever Air Force Base, Colorado, Oct. 31, 2017. The Pumpkin Patrol will return to TVC this year, providing increased safety measures such as more ground/vehicle patrols, guards at intersections and security posts. For those off base, 50th SFS personnel recommend planning trick-or-treating routes in safer neighborhoods. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman William Tracy)


While Halloween is the holiday of scares and good natured trickery, safety personnel from Schriever Air Force Base, Colorado, advise Airmen to pay attention to its unique safety considerations to prevent the holiday from becoming a real nightmare.


“There are going to be a lot of people walking around at dark, in dark clothes, not using cross walks and darting out into the street,” said Staff Sgt. Robert Cook, 50th Space Wing Safety Office noncommissioned officer in charge of occupational safety. “Be extra vigilant on Halloween night, especially in residential areas.”


With Halloween comes trick-or-treating, and while it provides a chance for children and adults to dress up, Cook emphasized increased awareness for pedestrians.


“Parents should inform their children to always stay on sidewalks when they are available and avoid walking in the roadways,” he said. “They should also stress the importance of not going off with strangers and to not enter a stranger’s home.”

Staff Sgt. Benjamin Lara, 50th Security Forces Squadron noncommissioned officer in charge of police services, shared this sentiment. Lara is an organizer of the squadron’s Pumpkin Patrol, an initiative where 50th SFS increases security and ground/vehicle patrols in the Tierra Vista Communities for trick-or-treaters.


“There will be additional patrols, as well as Airmen walking around in reflective vests and guarding intersections,” Lara said. “It’s going to increase the overall safety, and we’ll have people nearby to respond on scene.”


While his squadron’s focus is on protecting residents on base, Lara said safety applies everywhere.


“Wear reflective clothes, bring a flashlight, stop at intersections – always keep safety in mind,” he said.


Both Cook and Lara advocate for children to wear bright, weather appropriate costumes and stay in well-lit areas. Costumes should not limit sight, breathing or maneuverability.


Additionally, parents and children should make certain a person is who they say they are, as masks conceal identity and many wear similar costumes. Predators may approach a child making false claims their parent said they should go with them, or solicit a child with candy.


To prevent this, it’s recommended parents plan a route for their children to follow in safer neighborhoods, ensure their children have cell phones and stay in close proximity to them.


Cook said drivers should heed caution as well.


“Low visibility costumes make can it hard for a vehicle operator to see the child,” he said. “Be very aware in residential neighborhoods; take it slow. There is no need to rush. Come to complete stops at stop signs, and look both ways for people crossing.”


When it comes to candy, Cook said parents should watch for evidence of tampering.


“Parents should inspect all candy before their children go diving into it,” he said. “Look for signs, such as already opened candy - if it doesn’t look right don’t eat it.”


In safer neighborhoods, like with the Pumpkin Patrol at Schriever AFB, there will be increased police presence. Lara said anyone acting suspicious or handing out suspicious candy should be reported to a law enforcement official.


Despite these real scares, he said parents and their children should strive to have a fun, treat-filled, safe night.


“Go out and be safe,” Lara said.  “Remember, your safety is imperative and foremost.”


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