Staying safe this Halloween

Contact Reporterhbridges@vagazette.com

The candy is disappearing from store shelves. The costumes are coming together. The local trick-or-treat hours have been set.

Halloween is right around the corner.

In anticipation of the holiday, safety officials from the City of Williamsburg, James City and York Counties offered tips for keeping safety at the forefront of a fun-filled night.

Limit trick-or-treating to the hours set for each locality. For the city of Williamsburg and James City County, trick-or-treat hours run from 6-8 p.m. on Oct. 31 for children ages 12 and under. In York County, also for kids ages 12 and under, hours run from 5:30-8 p.m. on Oct. 31.

Adult supervision is key.

"It's not always about the kids being responsible," said Aundrea Holiday, Community Services Officer for the Williamsburg Police Department. "(It's) about what other people may try to take advantage of them."

Holiday also stressed knowing the rules of the road: "when to use the sidewalk, where to cross and also, if you must walk in the street, make sure that you're walking facing traffic."

Trick-or-treaters should cross only at corners, never in the middle of the block, according to a news release from James City County Police.

On the other hand, JCC Police spokeswoman Stephanie Williams urged caution among drivers.

"Be on the lookout for additional pedestrians, because with young kids, you just want to be extra cautious," she said.

Visibility is another huge factor.

"The child needs to be able to see, and needs to be seen, and that's true with anybody that's out walking around," said Annetta Norwood, Fire and Life Safety Educator for York County.

Holiday advised that trick-or-treaters use makeup rather than masks. Norwood said if masks are used, it's important to make sure kids know to lift the masks when walking from house to house.

In terms of being seen, Norwood suggested wearing light or bright colors. At the least, incorporate reflective or glow-in-the-dark materials in costumes—in front and back—and carry flashlights.

Costumes should also fit properly to eliminate tripping or falling.

While much of the action occurs outdoors, Norwood offered tips for homeowners.

She advised against using open flames in any type of decoration, jack-o-lanterns or otherwise, instead suggesting battery-operated or glow-in-the-dark lighting.

"Some people want to put the candles in the lanterns whether they're inside or outside the home," she said. "It's just not a good idea."

Still, parents and trick-or-treaters should be wary of any open flames, and costumes should be made of flame-resistant or flame-retardant material.

Norwood also advised against blocking any exits with decorations, even exits you wouldn't normally think to use.

Other tips to keep in mind? Trick-or-treaters should only approach houses with the porch light turned on. Candy should not be eaten until checked by an adult, nor should unwrapped candy be eaten.

Below are a few safe alternatives, or fun additions, to the usual neighborhood trick-or-treating.

•Family Fall Festival: Dress in costume and trunk-or-treat among community heroes, such as the police and fire departments of Williamsburg, James City County and York County, Sentara Williamsburg, Baeplex, Child Development Resources and more. The festivities include face painting, games, prizes and carved pumpkin contests. Presented by Mooretown Chick-fil-A, the event runs from 5-7 p.m. on Oct. 25 at 6732 Mooretown Road.

•WISC Trunk or Treat: In addition to the main event, browsing decorated vehicle trunks filled with candy, WISC's Halloween fun includes hayrides, games, face painting, a costume contest and gymnastics obstacle course. Open to kids ages 12 and under, entry is $5 per child. Event runs from 4:30-6:30 p.m. on Oct. 29 at 5700 Warhill Trail. For more information, call 757-253-1947.

•Family Frights: This Halloween-themed museum night allows trick-or-treating throughout Jamestown's re-created fort, as well as aboard the Susan Constant, Godspeed and Discovery. Visitors can also participate in ghost stories, face painting, creepy crafts and games during this event, from 6:30-9 p.m. on Oct. 21 and 22. Admission is $7 per child, ages 4-12, and $3 per adult and free for children under 3. For more information, call 757-253-4838.

•Halloween Spooktacular: Williamsburg Premium outlets invites young shoppers to trick-or-treat at participating retailers, such as Tommy Hilfiger and Bare Minerals. Those participating will put a sign in the store's front window. Other activities include face painting and balloon art. The event will occur from 6-8 p.m. on Oct. 31 at 5715 Richmond Road.

•A Pirate's Life for Me: Colonial Williamsburg's free trick-or-treating event returns this year for kids ages 3-12. Registration has already filled for Oct. 28-30, but spots are still available for 5-7:30 p.m. on Oct. 31. You must preregister at colonialwilliamsburg.com/haunting or by calling 855-296-6627. For $15, kids under 12 can also check out a pirate carnival, games, costume contest, storytelling and more from 5-7:30 p.m., Oct. 28-31.

•Trunk or Treat: A free community event hosted by Williamsburg Church of Christ, this Trunk or Treat event is open to children through fifth grade. Kids should bring a bag for candy collection and dress in costume, although the church requests there be no clown costumes or gory garb. Trunk-or-treating continues from 6-8 p.m. on Oct. 29 at 227 Merrimac Trail. For more information, visit williamsburgcoc.org.

Bridges can be reached by phone at 757-345-2342.

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