BY DARREN CAMPBELL

With Halloween rapidly approaching, I have received many questions about how this year’s events will be effected by the COVID-19 pandemic. Many businesses and churches have canceled their annual events. If you are interested in finding events, I strongly suggest you look events up online to see if they are still going to happen, and what social distancing and mask requirements will be in place.

Let me say, the Iredell County Sheriff’s Office will be out as we always are to ensure those on the Registered Sex Offender Registry are complying with the restrictions set forth by their sentences.

I strongly urge individuals as well as church and school groups to follow state and county health policies to limit participating in traditional trick-or-treating where treats are handed to children as they go door to door.

Use caution when attending crowded indoor costume parties. Promote the use of hand sanitizer by trick-or-treaters, and their families or guardians.

If you plan on driving around or taking children out on Halloween evening, please watch out for children darting from between parked cars or other objects. Children may also be walking on roadways or near street curbing. Make sure you enter driveways and alleys slowly, and carefully.

Parents or guardians, please make sure an adult or older responsible youth is looking after children under the age of 12. Before starting out for the evening, go over all safety rules, and gather cell phone numbers of the children in your group if they have phones. Make sure children know how to call 911 in case of an emergency. Tell the trick-or-treaters to never go inside someone’s home they do not know.

Plan and discuss the route trick-or-treaters intend to follow. Establish a time for them to return to where you are, if you are not going with them. Explain to the children to only travel in familiar areas, which are well lighted if possible.

When picking out that scary or pretty costume, make sure it fits your child. Costumes which are too long may become a tripping hazard. Make sure any shoes or costume parts on or around the feet fit well to prevent trips and falls. Masks, with eye holes which are too small limit vision. Remember, Halloween masks are not suitable to provide COVID-19 protection. Place or incorporate reflective strips of clothing or tape into the costume, especially if you will be out after dark.

Make sure several people in the group, or the individual trick-or-treater, has a flashlight. Use reflective or light colored bags to help drivers see them while they are walking from house to house. Make sure the children walk. I know they get excited, especially the little ones, but caution them not to run. Ensure children cross streets or roads at intersections or crosswalks.

Insist all treats be inspected for safety, freshness, and to ensure the seals are intact. If accepted, wash all fruit before eating. Immediately throw away any candy which is unwrapped or partially wrapped, or has a strange odor, color, or texture.

Halloween is a wonderful time to have fun and make great memories with family and friends. By following these simple safety practices, we can ensure our trick-or-treaters the only scary things out are the ghouls, ghosts, witches, and goblins.

If you have any additional questions about Halloween safety or any other law enforcement topic, please contact me at 704-878-3180 or send me an email at decampbell@co.iredell.nc.us.

Darren Campbell is the Iredell County sheriff.

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