SIDNEY — As Halloween approaches, when little ghosts, witches and monsters take to the streets for Beggars’ Night, safety should be on everyone’s mind, Shelby County Sheriff John Lenhart cautioned during his weekly interview.
“Halloween is the most dangerous night of the year. There are 5.5 people killed (on Halloween night) versus 2.6 killed on an average day in America,” Lenhart said. “And most of them are hurt at intersections and crosswalks between the hours of 6 and 7 (p.m.)”
Drivers should slow down and watch for children in residential neighborhoods on Beggars’ Night and be sure to obey all traffic signs, Lenhart said.
“Drive as slow as you can, and actually slower than the speed limit. Give yourself extra time to get to wherever you are going, because there is going to be kids darting in and out of the streets and across the streets,” he said. “Watch for the children in roadways, the medians, and the curbs.”
Lenhart said parents should still be going trick-or-treating with their children at 12 years old; they should not be out alone. He suggests discussing a trick or treat route and the streets they should stay on ahead of time.
He noted that dark Halloween costumes can make it difficult for motorists to see children. Lenhart recommends for costumes to be visible with some type of reflective material and be flame retardant.
“Teach children to stop only at well-lit houses and never enter a stranger’s home or garage. Establish a time for children to return home and certainly tell children not to eat any treats until they get home so you can go through it with them,” he said.
Trick-or-treaters should not only wear reflective costumes, Lenhart said, but also carry flash lights in their treat bucket so both of their hands are not full. He recommends avoiding face masks that could obstruct vision.
“Do face-painting rather than the masks. And obviously watch the length or the costumes to keep the kids from falling,” he said. “Watch the props that you use, you know, swords and anything that kids are going to use for horseplay. The minimum amount of those things.”
Stay on the sidewalks, avoid walking on the streets. Be sure to look both ways and listen before crossing a street only at corners, and never between parked cars, Lenhart said.
“If you can, trick-or-treat in groups, with an older adult, that’s the best. The absolute best,” he said.
Many people like to dress their pet in Halloween costumes, and while that is fine, Lenhart said, the pet is probably “the better judge” of whether they like it or not.
Keep your pet away from the door on Beggars’ Night, Lenhart said.
“If there is an animal outside, you may want to bypass that house. I think for everybody’s safety, that’s better,” Lenhart said.
He noted that pets may be scared during a night of extra commotion around the house. He said to be aware that when an animal is afraid, it may bite. He also said to keep treats away from the pets, including nicotine or alcohol, as they could be toxic or deadly.
“We want you to have a good time. The city police through out the county will be out. Sheriff’s deputies will be in the different villages, and the police departments in their respective villages will also be out,” Lenhart said.
Lenhart also provided the following dates and times when Beggars’ Night will be observed in area Shelby County communities:
Thursday, Oct. 25
• Anna, 6 to 7 p.m.
• Fort Loramie, 6:30 to 8 p.m.
• Houston, 6 to 8 p.m.
• Kettlersville, 6 to 7 p.m.
• Lockington, 6 to 8 p.m.
Sunday, Oct. 28
• Botkins, 1 to 2:30 p.m.
• Jackson Center, 6 to 7 p.m.
• McCartyville, 1 to 3 p.m.
• Russia, 2 to 3:30 p.m.
Wednesday, Oct. 31
• Port Jefferson, 6 to 7 p.m.
• Sidney, 6 to 7:30 p.m.
The writer conducts a weekly interview to update readers with news from the Shelby County Sheriff’s Office, 555 Gearhart Road, Sidney.