Thursday, October 15, 2009

Ten Things Parents Can Do to Make Halloween Safer

/PRNewswire/ -- Halloween is one of the most exciting times of the year for children, but sometimes the most hectic for parents. Nearly 94 percent of children between the ages of four and twelve participate in Halloween activities each year. The National Center for Missing & Exploited Children (NCMEC) reminds parents to take a moment to consider basic safety precautions that will make Halloween a safer night of fun.

-- CHOOSE bright, flame-retardant costumes or add reflective tape to
costumes and candy bags so children are easily seen in the dark. In
addition, carry a glow stick or flashlight.
-- PLAN a trick-or-treating route in familiar neighborhoods with well-lit
streets. Avoid unfamiliar neighborhoods, streets that are isolated,
or homes that are poorly lit inside or outside.
-- NEVER send young children out alone. They should always be
accompanied by a parent or another trusted adult. Older children
should always travel in groups.
-- ALWAYS walk younger children to the door to receive treats and don't
let children enter a home unless you are with them.
-- BE SURE children do not approach any vehicle, occupied or not, unless
you are with them.
-- DISCUSS basic pedestrian safety rules that children should use when
walking to and from houses.
-- CONSIDER organizing a home or community party as an alternative to
"trick-or-treating."
-- MAKE sure children know their home phone number and address in case
you get separated. Teach children how to call 911 in an emergency.
-- TEACH children to say "NO!" or "this is not my mother/father" in a
loud voice if someone tries to get them to go somewhere, accept
anything other than a treat, or leave with them. And teach them that
they should make every effort to get away by kicking, screaming and
resisting.
-- REMIND children to remain alert and report suspicious incidents to
parents and/or law enforcement.

"Child safety is important year round, but Halloween is an especially important time for parents and children to pay extra attention to their surroundings and not let their guard down," said Nancy McBride, National Safety Director of NCMEC. "It is important that parents exercise a few basic safety precautions to help ensure that Halloween is both fun and safe."

This year the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children observes its 25th anniversary. NCMEC has played a role in the recovery of more than 138,500 children. Today more children come home safely than ever before. In 2008, NCMEC helped recover more children than any other year in the organization's 25-year history, raising the recovery rate from 62 percent in 1990 to 97 percent today. And more of those who prey on children are being identified and prosecuted. Yet too many children are still missing and too many children are still the victims of sexual exploitation. There is much more that needs to be done.

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