“Project Safe Hallowe’en” is now in it’s seventh year and is growing to include even the very young children.
In past years, the program, which promotes safety and distributes glow sticks to trick-or-treaters, targeted students in JK-Grade 8 across the district. But this year, children at nursery schools and day cares also will receive glow sticks and learn some safety tips.
The glow sticks act as night lights that can be worn by children as they trick-or-treat to make them more visible to motorists.
“The younger kids have always been able to pick up the glow sticks, but this time we thought we’d go directly to them,” said Betty-Anne MacKintosh of Family and Children’s Services here, who organizes the program with the help of the Rainy River Valley Safety Coalition.
“We see a lot of kids out and about wearing the glow sticks, so we definitely feel it is a positive program that is working,” she remarked.
“And the kids are really excited to get the glow sticks,” echoed Amanda Jourdain of FACS.
“The parents and teachers also seem pleased with the program.”
This year, 4,000 glow sticks were ordered, which is twice as many as they handed out in 2006.
The OPP and CN Police also partner with the project in order to get the safe message out, and this year there is a “Safe Routes” theme.
“We cover a lot of safety, and we’ve been focusing primarily on pedestrian safety and railway safety and how kids can be visible,” noted Fort Frances OPP Cst. Anne McCoy.
In fact, she noted October is “Be Visible” month through Safe Communities Canada.
“The timing is right to remind people to be visible by wearing [Hallowe’en] costumes that fit and to wear the glow sticks,” Cst. McCoy added.
While most of the glow sticks already have been delivered to the schools and day cares, the youngsters also will hear presentations about Hallowe’en safety.
Cst. McCoy also went through some important safety tips for the big night, including:
•Go trick-or-treating with a parent or another responsible adult.
•If children are trick-or-treating with friends, make sure they stick together and no one is left behind.
•Have an established route and make sure parents know the route being taken, and the estimated time it will take to complete the route (children who are old enough should wear a watch so they can keep track of time).
•Ensure costumes are short enough so they will not be tripped over.
•Try to use makeup instead of a mask so that vision isn’t limited.
•Make costumes as visible as possible, such as through carrying a glow stick around the wrist, a flashlight, or with reflective tape.
•While trick-or-treating, don’t zig-zag back and forth across the street. Stick to one side and cross only at safe locations.
•Use sidewalks when possible, and walk facing traffic if you have to walk on the roadway. Also, keep away from parked cars.
•Watch out for cars, especially if it’s snowing, dark out, or raining since it is harder for drivers to see and stop quickly in those conditions.
•Walk from house to house, do not run.
•Watch out for unsafe things that could be outside of a home, such as obstacles on lawns, walkways, and porches, including lawn ornaments or clotheslines.
•Stay away from open fires and candles.
•Unless accompanied by an adult, only stop at familiar houses in your own neighbourhood.
•Avoid houses that are not well-lit.
•Never enter a home or car for any reason. If unsure, children always should ask their parent whether it’s okay.
•Stay in well-lit areas and avoid back alleys, fields, parks, and other out-of-the-way places.
•Stay away from the railway tracks and railway yards.
•If lost, look for another child trick-or-treating with their parent and ask them for help. Also, parents should write their children’s address and phone number on a piece of paper and put it in their pocket in case they get lost.
•Parents should check candy before it is eaten to make sure all items are sealed, and that wrappers are not broken or damaged.
Cst. McCoy also asked that older children remember they are role models for younger ones, and to act accordingly so everyone has a fun holiday.
“We also want to remind adults to slow down, especially during the trick-or-treating time,” Cst. McCoy stressed. “If a child is struck by a vehicle at a reduced speed, the chance of the child surviving greatly increases.”
FACS offices in both Fort Frances and Atikokan also will have glow sticks available until 5 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 30.
The glow sticks last for about six hours, and should be worn around the wrist so they are visible from both the front and back.
For more information, call FACS at 274-7787.