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updated: 10/15/2013 4:00 PM

Des Plaines Police/Fire Promote Halloween Safety

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Karen Kozenczak

The City of Des Plaines will observe Halloween and trick-or-treating on Thursday, October 31, 2013. Fire Chief Alan Wax and Police Chief William Kushner remind parents and guardians of children to use discretion this Halloween season as children participate in holiday activities.

"We want people to be safety conscious at all times, but particularly at Halloween when more children are out on our local streets. The City wants to take every measure to help secure the well-being of our residents," Fire Chief Wax said.

Fire Chief Wax reminds residents that it is an individual parental decision whether children should be allowed to trick-or- treat. He reiterates the importance of being cautious and examining all collected treats.

According to Police Chief Kushner, "We recommend that parents wishing to celebrate Halloween organize neighborhood Halloween parties. This allows the children to experience the excitement of Halloween while remaining indoors where they are warm, dry and with people you know."

Police will be putting on extra patrols, including plain-clothed police officers. In addition, members of the Emergency Management Agency's (EMA) citizen volunteer programs (Citizens on Patrol and Fire Corps) will assist police on Halloween night.

Officials offer this advice for those parents who choose to allow their children to trick-or-treat:

-While no set hours have been established for trick or treating, Police suggest that children be in by dusk.

-Make sure children are accompanied by an adult or a responsible guardian when they go door-to-door.

-Instruct children never to eat anything until they are home and the treats have been examined. Throw away anything unwrapped. Check the wrappers of commercial treats for signs of tampering.

-Call the police if there are suspicious treats (9-1-1 in Des Plaines).

-Make sure children's costumes fit and that they can see well. Instead of masks that restrict vision, makeup should be used.

-Have children stay in their own neighborhood and on well-lit streets.

-Make sure children carry flashlights if out after dusk.

-Teach your children to use the sidewalk. If there are no sidewalks, walk on the left side of the street facing cars.

-Know what friends your child will be with and the routes they are taking.

- Leave a porch light on so children will know that it is OK to visit your home.

-It is also helpful to keep a few fire prevention tips in mind during the Halloween season:

-Remember, paper ignites easily, so treats should be kept in something other than paper.

-Use flashlights in pumpkins rather than candles, and keep holiday decorations, such as dried cornstalks, away from heat sources. Avoid using lit candles as interior decorations, as they are often left unattended and could ignite nearby combustibles such as draperies, furniture, etc.

-Purchase only costumes, wigs, and props labeled flame-retardant. When making a costume, choose material that won't easily ignite if it comes in contact with heat or flame. Avoid billowing or long trailing features.

-Remember to keep exits clear of decorations, ensuring nothing blocks escape routes.

-Instruct your children who are attending parties to locate the exits and plan how they would get out in an emergency.

-When decorating walkways and yards, use flashlights as alternatives to candles or torch lights. Children's costumes may brush against open flames. Instruct children to stay away from open flames and make sure they know how to stop, drop, and roll in the event their costumes catch fire.

Individuals desiring more information on Halloween safety should call the Des Plaines Police Department at 847-391-5408 or 847-391-5367. Suspicious activity and strangers should be reported to 9-1-1.