Kids around the country look forward to every October 31st– a night in which they get to load up on candy and dress up as their favorite figures. Halloween is meant to give you some frights and scares, but never be dangerous.
While true, one of North Mississippi’s hallmarks is safety– our four most populous cities all appear in SafeWise’s Top 10 List of Mississippi’s Safest Cities of 2018— you can’t be too prepared or safe.
I spoke with Kevin McKenzie, captain of the Olive Branch Police Department’s Community Relations Division, about staying safe this Halloween season.
One of the most important things, McKenzie said, is parents should know where their kids are at at all times.
“Children should not be trick or treating alone at a young age,” McKenzie said. “I would say 6th grade and under, parent’s should accompany them. Older teenagers should be in groups or not be alone,” he added. “Older kids– if their parents are giving permission as far as them going with other kids their same age– parents need to check on them and give them a certain time of when to be back. If they are not back, they need to be able to contact them. Keep a good curfew on them.” McKenzie added.
When it comes to picking out a costume, parents need to ensure their children have good mobility, are visible and have good visibility.
“With little kids… [parents] want to make sure their costumes do not cause a problem with their mobility, as far as being able to walk safely. Nothing should obstruct their vision,” he said. “It’s good if the kids have some kind of reflecting or some kind of reflecting or flashing light to help keep them visible,” McKenzie said.
Some additional tips from McKenzie:
- Children and parents should have a flashlight that has intermittent flashes
- Avoid neighborhoods that don’t have adequate street lighting
- Avoid unwrapped candy and be cautious of homemade baked goods
- Households not wanting to participate in Halloween, should keep their porch lights off
“Back when I was a kid,” McKenzie said, “Our parents were told to be careful of the candy that [kids] are getting, which is true,” he said. “Parent’s don’t need to let their guard down on that.”
McKenzie said parents need to visually inspect the candy to make sure no wrappers have been open. Do not let your children consume candy where the wrapper has been opened or tampered with.
“Not to rain down on people’s ability to make homemade baked goods, but they need to be careful of homemade goods as well,” McKenzie said.
Your best bet, McKenzie said, is to attend trunk or treat events around the community. Kids are typically in a controlled environment going from car to car and in a well lit area. [Editor’s note: see this post about The Top 15 Halloween Events in North Mississippi]
For those sticking with neighborhood trick or treating, stay alert. McKenzie said common calls the Olive Branch Police Department gets on Halloween night are: kids damaging people’s decorations, kids bullying other kids and kids being out later than they should.
If you see something like this happening on Halloween night, McKenzie says to call the non-emergency phone number. In Olive Branch, the number is (662) 895-4111. Check your local police department’s website to find the non-emergency phone number.
In Olive Branch, McKenzie said they have a full patrol shift that will be working and doing routine patrol in neighborhoods that typically have a high turnout for trick or treating. Many other departments will be doing the same.
If going door-to-door is not a good option for you, there are plenty of community events happening in North Mississippi. You can check out my recommendation of the Top 15 Halloween Events in North Mississippi.