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Play it safe

With Halloween coming up Monday, drivers are reminded to watch out for the little ghosts, goblins and other characters roaming the streets after sundown, said Carma Hanson, coordinator of the Safe Kids Grand Forks program.

With Halloween coming up Monday, drivers are reminded to watch out for the little ghosts, goblins and other characters roaming the streets after sundown, said Carma Hanson, coordinator of the Safe Kids Grand Forks program.

They could dart out anywhere, not just at crosswalks.

"Slow down and watch for kids, because they're excited," Hanson said. "They may see kids across the street, and the first thing they do is go to them."

Parents think their biggest concern is inspecting kids' collected candy to make sure it hasn't been tampered with, she said, "but that's not what's causing problems."

Last year on Halloween, motor vehicle collisions involving pedestrians was the most serious problem.

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"Kids are twice as likely to be hit on Halloween than any other time of the year," Hanson said.

"So many costumes are dark," she said. "Dark costumes and dark streets don't make a good combination."

Here are few more tips for keeping kids safe on the season's spookiest night:

Costume concerns: Parents can reduce children's risk of accidents by making sure their costumes include reflective material on the front and back. Have your children wear a "slap wrap" or carry a glow stick or a mylar bag to make them even more readily visible.

Reflective items to enhance your child's costume are available at the Safe Kids Grand Forks office at 860 S. Columbia Road, Grand Forks. A call in advance, to (701) 780-1489, is recommended.

Make sure your child's costume fits well and doesn't pose a risk of tripping.

Instead of a mask, which interferes with a child's peripheral vision, consider using face paint to complete the image.

Crossing streets: Impress upon kids the need to cross the street at the crosswalk, not midblock, where drivers may not expect to see them.

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Tell your kids to check to see that the wheels of a vehicle are stopped, "make eye contact with the driver and keep looking as they cross," Hanson said.

Safety in the entry: As a homeowner, light your patio or entryway with flameless candles or glow sticks to welcome kids to your door. Lit candles in pumpkins or other objects could ignite a costume with long, draping fabric or a tail.

Pocket the phone: "Older kids, who are out and about, should put down the cellphones and pay attention to what they're doing," Hanson said. Distracted walkers increase their risk of physical injury.

Check goodies: If you have young kids, when they get home from trick-or-treating, sift through their goodies and remove any items that pose a choking hazard.

Alternative celebrations: "We encourage people to go to indoor (Halloween-themed) events where kids don't need to be in low-light conditions," Hanson said.

Look for a list of such events on the Safe Kids Grand Forks website ( www.safekidsgf.com ) or Facebook page.

"Think about hosting a Halloween party yourself," she said. "You can create an environment that's safe and fun.

"You could watch a Halloween movie, have a costume contest or play a Halloween game."

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Check online sources such as Pinterest or search Google for ideas that will get your creative juices churning.

Pamela Knudson is a features and arts/entertainment writer for the Grand Forks Herald.

She has worked for the Herald since 2011 and has covered a wide variety of topics, including the latest performances in the region and health topics.

Pamela can be reached at pknudson@gfherald.com or (701) 780-1107.
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