Trick-or-treating, costumes and parties are all part of a fun-filled Halloween, but safety remains a priority for local law enforcement agencies working to keep the holiday from becoming a real fright.

Orangeburg Department of Public Safety and Orangeburg County Sheriff’s Office officials are hoping to keep all children – and adults – safe on Sunday, Oct. 31.

ODPS Fire Marshal Jonathan Winningham said his office is promoting moisturizing hand sanitizer and masks.

He has specific instructions for the kind of Halloween masks children should be wearing.

“We don’t want them wearing anything where the eye holes are too small. You want to be able to see. So if they are going to wear a mask, it needs to be something that they can easily see through and something that isn’t, of course, made of toxic materials,” Winningham said.

“We would actually recommend them to wear makeup or paint on their face, anything that is safe for use that is still nontoxic because then we don’t have to worry about anything obscuring their vision,” he said.

Winningham continued, “Costumes with reflective material will help them be seen by motorists. Of course we don’t want them crossing the street unless they have an adult with them. We want them to cross at crosswalks at the end of the streets and preferably carry like a glow stick or a flashlight so that they can see their way.”

Staying in familiar neighborhoods and along well-lit streets are also priorities, he said.

“You may end up having some older teens that are babysitting their siblings and taking them out trick-or-treating, and the parents may be home, but we want them to stick to a particular route, and especially to a time that they’re going to be returning home,” Winningham said.

“If parents share a phone account with their children, which I’d imagine most of them do, have an app where they’re able to track where their children’s cell phones are. We can use a little technology there,” he said.

Winningham also advised not going up to homes that are not participating in trick-or-treating.

“Typically, if the house is going to be participating and accepting trick-or-treaters, their front porch lights are going to be on. There should at least be people visible like on their porch, or the front door is open or something like that,” he said.

Winningham said adults should not be distracted while out trick-or-treating.

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“This even applies to children, especially teens. They should take their eyes off of their phones. Look up and keep your electronic devices down. That’ll help them with seeing where they’re going. I’m seeing news stories where people were getting injured because they were playing a game on their phone,” the fire marshal said.

Winningham also encouraged individuals to make sure children don’t consume any candies that are already open, or any type of treats that don’t come in some sort of sealed factory packaging.

“We want our parents to not allow their children to eat anything that’s loose unless, of course, it comes from a family member or something like that. I know a lot of people attend trunk-or-treats with their church or a group that they get together with.

“In a situation like that where everyone knows each other, then I guess a loose treat wouldn’t be bad, (but) we want to see the parents actually inspect the packaging of the candy prior to their children actually eating anything,” he said, noting that rationing children’s treats would also not be a bad idea so they won’t “eat it all in one go.”

ODPS will be providing extra patrols for safety and security on Halloween.

“We do always have officers patrolling in the neighborhoods, residential areas where Halloween and trick-or-treating is going on,” Winningham said.

ODPS has set trick-or-treat hours in the city for 5 to 7:30 p.m. on Halloween. The sheriff’s office has set trick-or-treat hours at 6 to 8 p.m. in unincorporated areas of the county.

Municipalities may have their own specific trick-or-treat times, which must be observed within their town limits, according to the sheriff’s office.

The sheriff’s office will be holding its own drive-thru trunk-or-treat from 6 to 8 p.m. Friday, Oct. 29, at the Orangeburg County Law Enforcement Complex at 1520 Ellis Ave. in Orangeburg.

The S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control has reported that drive-through events, one-directional haunted trails, outdoor pumpkin patches and creative methods for handing out candy can all be safe alternatives for celebrating.

“It’s no secret that, during this pandemic, major holidays have led to increases in cases, hospitalizations and deaths,” said Dr. Brannon Traxler, DHEC public health director.

“We want to avoid that over the next few months, and that starts with keeping each other safe during Halloween through the rest of the holiday season,” she said.

DHEC’s most recent tips for a safe Halloween include not attending social gatherings if you have any symptoms or have tested positive for COVID-19 in the last 10 days, or if you have been exposed and instructed to quarantine in the last 14 days.

Wearing masks, especially indoors, and practicing social distancing, hand washing and limiting contacts with shared items at gatherings are among other guidance measures.

Individuals can view SDHEC’s COVID-19 Halloween safety tips at https://scdhec.gov/news-releases/dhec-reiterates-safety-guidance-call-vaccinations-ahead-holiday-season. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention provides Halloween guidance at www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/daily-life-coping/index.html.

For the latest COVID-19 information in the state, visit scdhec.gov/COVID19. For a nearby testing location, visit scdhec.gov/COVID19testing.

Contact the writer: dgleaton@timesanddemocrat.com or 803-533-5534. Follow “Good News with Gleaton” on Twitter at @DionneTandD.

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