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Halloween safety a must

KADENA AIR BASE, Japan -- As the end of October approaches so does Halloween and officials here are raising safety awareness to ensure everyone has an enjoyable time during this occasion.

The 18th Wing has initiated a number of methods to minimize potential Halloween hazards for children, such as establishment of Halloween hours.

"This year, the wing commander has designated Oct. 31 from 6 to 8 p.m., as 'trick or treat' hours in the military family housing area," said Bert Stamm, 18th Wing ground safety manager. "Please refrain from driving during that time in the housing area. If you must drive through there, slow down and be extra cautious."

Extra precautions will also be taken to deal with the added risk drivers pose to children trick or treating.

"The most common danger would be inattentive drivers," said Tech. Sgt. Matt Howard, 18th Security Forces NCO-in-charge of police services. "Using sidewalks, crosswalks and wearing reflective clothing and devices will help mitigate these dangers."

Security forces are also adjusting traffic rules to ensure the safety of children out and about.

"The speed limit for all housing areas on Kadena will be lowered to 15 KPH on Halloween from 5 to 9 p.m." said Sergeant Howard. "The Security Forces will be out to strictly enforce these speed limits."

Many members of Team Kadena will be assisting security forces by joining the "Pumpkin Patrol."

"We will also have several volunteers from the base community along with security forces members walking in all housing areas to ensure a safe trick-or-treating experience is had by all," said Sergeant Howard.

Safety responsibilities for young children ultimately rest with parents and adult supervisors, and the wing has safety tips for those who will be escorting children around this Halloween.

"Make sure the child's costume fits properly," said Mr. Stamm. "Costumes should be short enough to prevent children from tripping. Openings in masks (eyes, nose, and mouth) and headpieces should be large enough to ensure vision and breathing is not obstructed."

In addition to well fitting costumes, children should also be seen.

"We highly encourage children to wear reflective type outfits, as well as carry a flash light or glow sticks to help with visibility," said Sergeant Howard.

Children getting separated from those supervising them can also pose a serious safety concern.

"Another major concern would be lost children," said Sergeant Howard. "Parents should keep close enough to their children to observe them at all times. Have a plan in place should you become separated from your child. Ensure your child knows not only the plan but your contact numbers as well as your home address."

The safety office also has tips for children consuming the "treats." They recommend parents ensure the safety of candy children receive before allowing them to eat it.

"Never eat candy when the package has already been opened," said Mr. Stamm. "Immediately report to the military or local police if you suspect any candy has been tampered with."

Small, hard candy can also be a choking hazard, Mr. Stamm cautions.

"Sort through the candy and know exactly what your little ones are eating," he said. "Do not allow them to snack while trick or treating."

To assist parents with the safety of candy this Halloween, the passenger terminal invites parents to bring their children and candy by for an x-ray scan.

"These are just a few precautions that can be taken," said Mr. Stamm. "We are certain you have others in mind. Don't let them go by the wayside."