Trick-or-treating, classroom parties or trips to a haunted house are all aspects of a fun-filled Halloween and safety remains a priority for local law enforcement agencies as people enjoy the sights and sounds of the day and night.
Officials with the Orangeburg Department of Public Safety and the Orangeburg County Sheriff's Office are hoping to keep all children who may be canvassing neighborhoods as ghastly ghouls and creepy critters safe on Thursday, Oct. 31.
“We would like to let the community know that it's pertinent that no one let their children trick-or-treat alone. It's sad that we have to say that in this day and age, but no one should have their children out trick-or-treating alone. They should be accompanied by an adult at all times,” ODPS Cpl. Jakeem Williford said.
Williford urged parents to dress their children in costumes with some type of reflective material to ensure they will be highly visible to motorists and others.
“We're at that time of the year where it gets dark early. A lot of times when they're trick-or-treating, they're crossing the street and walking up and down the street. We want them to be as visible as possible to cars coming down the road,” Williford said.
“We also want to remind the motorists to make sure they're on the look-out on Halloween for those trick-or-treaters, those kids that are out just trying to enjoy the festivities of the evening,” he said.
He also urged people to not be distracted by cell phones and other electronic devices.
“You have to stay vigilant not just during trick-or-treat hours, but at all times you're out walking, especially in the dusk hours, or the nighttime hours when there's low visibility. There's a lot of places, especially in neighborhoods, where people may be hiding behind bushes or behind houses, and you wouldn't be able to see them.
“It's better to be able to put the phone down, put it in your pocket and keep your head on a swivel so you can be alert and know what's going on so you can react in a timely fashion if a threat, obstacle or some type of danger may come your way,” Williford said.
He also urged parents and others to know the route on which they are trick-or-treating.
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“That way, you have a plan and not just randomly going around. You may get confused because once it gets dark, all the streets start looking the same in a lot of neighborhoods in certain areas. You don't want to get too far away from your vehicle or anything like that and have trouble finding your way back to vehicle,” Williford said.
He also cautioned individuals not to go up to homes which may not be participating in trick-or-treating.
"Every neighborhood is not going to participate. So it's very good to know the neighborhoods that you are going in. A lot of times if someone does not have their porch light lit, that means they're not participating. So if their porch light is not lit or their door is not open, we warn people to not go up to their house,” Williford said.
“They obviously may not want any visitors come by, and we don't want to cause any undue tension or stress upon anybody by people coming up to their house and they're not wanted,” he said.
The officer cautioned parents to check their children’s candy before they eat it.
"That's why an adult should be with the children at all times. That way, you can actually monitor and control where your children are getting candy from. A lot of times if you know the neighborhood that you're going to trick-or-treat in, you mostly know those people that are in that neighborhood.
“That helps with the factor of controlling the access to the candy that your children have. Once you get back home, before you allow them to start eating, just go through the bag. I would say dump it all out on the kitchen table. Comb through, make sure it's all still closed, it's still sealed,” Williford said.
He added, “In the news recently, you had people going in the grocery store opening ice cream and licking it. So it's important to make that all the candy is still sealed in its individual wrapper. You might want to just run your hand across it and make sure there's nothing poking through the wrapper, or anything that's been stuck inside of it."
The ODPS will be providing extra patrols for the purpose of safety and security on Halloween.
"The Orangeburg Department of Public Safety will have increased patrols throughout the city on that night. We will also have some of our bike officers out in some of our highly-populated neighborhoods and have them canvassing the area just to keep everybody safe, keep it a fun, friendly atmosphere and make sure that nothing happens that doesn't need to happen,” Williford said.
The ODPS has set trick-or-treat hours in the city for 5 to 7:30 p.m. on Halloween. The OCSO has set trick-or-treat hours at 6 to 8 p.m. in unincorporated areas of the county.
The sheriff’s office has announced that municipalities may have their own specific trick-or-treat times, which must be observed within their town limits. (A list accompanies this story.)
The OSCO will be holding its own Trunk of Treat Extravaganza from 6 to 8 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 31, at the Orangeburg County Law Enforcement Complex at 1520 Ellis Ave. in Orangeburg.