By Scott Prater

Mountaineer staff

FORT CARSON, Colo. - Halloween is arguably one of the most anticipated holidays of the year for children and their parents. The opportunity to dress up in costumes and enjoy parties and trick-or-treating in the evening happens just once a year.

However, these celebrations do present some safety challenges for children, their Families and drivers on Halloween night.

Fort Carson Family Homes (FCFH) and the Fort Carson Garrison Safety Office have issued some tips for children, parents and people who plan to drive on post for the festive evening.

"Every (housing) village on Fort Carson will be open and participating in trick or treating on Halloween night, Oct. 31, 2019, from 5-8 p.m.," said Meghan Weismiller, communications specialist, FCFH.

That said, individual Families can choose to participate or not.

"Trick-or-treaters and their parents should use their better judgement when approaching housing units," Weismiller said.

Some houses will be more visually inviting to trick-or-treaters than others. Parents should look and instruct their children to look for inviting lighting and Halloween-themed entryways.

"It should be dark on post around 6 p.m., so trick-or-treaters should also use sidewalks and crosswalks wherever available," Weismiller said. "Small children should be accompanied by adults while older children should use the buddy system. No one should be out trick-or-treating alone."

Weismiller said FCFH also recommends trick-or-treaters wear reflective clothing or costumes that are visible to pedestrians and vehicle drivers. Costumes should also be of appropriate length to prevent a tripping hazard.

FCFH's final Halloween-themed event, "Hocus Pocus Movie Night," is Sunday from 5-7 p.m. at the South Community Center, 1045 Titus Blvd., building 7790. Event admission is free and open to FCFH residents. The event is Family-friendly and snacks will be provided.

Since children aged 5-14 are four times more likely to be killed while walking on Halloween compared to other nights; the Fort Carson Garrison Safety Office has presented several safety tips for trick or treaters and Family members.

--Teach children their home phone number and how to call 911 in an emergency or if they become lost; remind them 911 can be dialed free from any phone

--Know the route children will be taking if an adult cannot be with them

--Help children pick out or make a safe costume that is labeled fire-proof; costume eye holes should be large enough for good peripheral vision; or use face paint instead

--If a child is carrying a prop, such as a scythe, butcher knife or a pitchfork: ensure the tips are smooth and flexible enough to not cause injury

--When using jack-o'-lanterns with candles, make sure they are far enough out of the way so costumes won't accidentally be set on fire; review with children the principle of "stop-drop-roll," should their clothes catch on fire

--The best bet is to make sure that an adult can accompany a child; if parents are unavailable, see if another parent or a teen-aged sibling can go along

--Know what other activities a child may be attending, such as parties, school or mall functions

--Set a time for children to be home and make sure they know how important it is for them to be home on time

--Take extra effort to eliminate tripping hazards on porches and walkways; check around the property for flower pots, low tree limbs, support wires or garden hoses that may prove hazardous to children rushing from house to house

--Many parents overestimate children's street-crossing skills; pedestrian skills of children are limited by several factors related to their physical size and developmental stage, including: physical ability to cross a street quickly, small size limits their visibility to drivers; children are likely to choose the shortest route vs. the safest route across streets, often darting out between parked cars; children do not evaluate potential traffic threats effectively and cannot anticipate driver behavior; their sensory information processes more slowly than adults

Drivers on post during the Halloween time frame should take extra precautions.

--Don't use cell phones or other electronic devices while driving

--Pay extra attention, particularly to crosswalks, intersections and the side of the road; kids tend to walk along the curbs, cutting across the street to get to other homes; continuously scan all around, whether as thru traffic or along with kids as they trick-or-treat

--Drive below the posted speed limit in residential areas during trick-or-treating hours

--Do not pass other vehicles that have stopped in the roadway, they could be dropping off children

--Put a lighted plastic jack-o'-lantern on the dashboard to make the car more recognizable to children

--It's also a night that child predators are looking for victims; educate children on this and inform them to never get into the car of a stranger at any time; if someone stops them, asks for help or offers them candy, tell them to scream as loud as they can and run

--If you are dropping off or picking up kids, pull off the road into a safe spot and turn on hazard lights to alert other motorists; when walking with the children door-to-door, leave the hazard lights on so other drivers can see the car