Ocean County Press Release
TOMS RIVER – With Halloween fun in full swing, there are plenty of tips to make sure the holiday that is filled with tricks and treats is a safe one.

Ocean County Freeholder Joseph H. Vicari recommends parents and guardians check the Megan's Law website to learn about any potential sex offenders that may live in their neighborhood, or neighborhoods where their children may be going door to door for candy.

"This only takes a few minutes and can make a big difference in keeping a child safe," Vicari said.

The database lists up-to-date information on all convicted sex offenders who are residents of the Garden State. Towns, counties, zip codes and even individual streets can be easily reviewed.

More advanced checks allow users to input the names of convicted sex offenders or check only newer records.

The database can be accessed through a link on the Ocean County Government Homepage at www.co.ocean.nj.us. The page can also be reached directly at www.njsp.org/sex-offender-registry/index.shtml.

For a fun and safe way to trick or treat, many organizations will be hosting "Trunk or Treat" events throughout October. These events are set up as a great alternative to going house-to-house where kids walk through a secured area and go trunk-to-trunk instead.

For example, Ocean County Parks and Recreation is scheduled to host their annual "Trunk or Treat" from 7 to 8:30 p.m. on Oct. 27 at Ocean County Park, 659 Ocean Ave., Lakewood. For more information, call 732-506-5122.

"Parents are encouraged to reach out to local organizations and municipalities to find out more information about the events that are happening in their town," Vicari said.

Vicari, who is also liaison to the Ocean County Department of Consumer Affairs, offered other tips for a safe holiday:
• An adult should accompany young children when going door to door.
• Trick-or-treat only on well-lit streets in the child's neighborhood or in an area they are familiar with.
• Only approach a house that has outside lights on.
• Never walk on the shoulder of the road. Use sidewalks or walk on the grass.
• Trick-or-treaters should carry flashlights.
• Parents should carefully check all candy before children eat their treats.
• Parents should teach children to walk and not run as they go from house to house.

"It's important to check every costume for a flame retardant label," Vicari added. "Some cheap or counterfeit costumes may not be safe to wear."

He advised residents to purchase their Halloween costumes at a reputable business in Ocean County.

Vicari also reminded residents to take care of their pets during the holiday festivities.

The American Veterinary Medical Foundation encourages pet owners to remember these tips on Halloween:
• Stash the candy away from pets.
• Make sure decorations are not in the pets' reach. Jack-o-Lanterns and candles can easily be knocked over and cause the chance for a fire.
• Be careful when putting pets in costumes as it may cause them undue stress.
• Make sure your pets are wearing proper identification, and keep them in a separate room from the front door so they will not dart outside.

Ocean County Freeholder Director Gerry P. Little, also stressed "safety before scary" when it comes to Halloween costumes.

It is suggested that costumes are decorated with reflective tape or stickers to be more visible while walking from house to house.

"Make sure the costume is clearly visible to passing motorists," Little said. "Children should consider wearing makeup instead of a mask so their vision is in no way blocked."

In addition, Ocean County Freeholder John P. Kelly, who also serves as Director of Law and Public Safety for the county, asked that motorists pay special attention when driving on Halloween.

According to federal statistics, children are twice as more likely to be hit by a car on Halloween than on any other day of the year.

"Young children may unexpectedly dart in front of your vehicle while they are trick or treating, it is important to stay alert and slow down while driving through residential areas," Kelly said.

Drivers are also reminded that if they are attending parties where alcohol is served, to make sure that there is a designated driver.

"Just because it is a holiday does not mean that safety should be put aside," said Kelly. "Do not forget to put the cellphone down and wear a seat belt while driving because costume or not, it can save your life."

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