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'Emergencies don’t take holidays off': Dickinson public safety officials advise caution for Halloween

Speaking with Dickinson Police and Fire departments on what people need to be mindful of as Halloween approaches.

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Mitch Mehrer with the Dickinson Rural Fire Department hands out a sticker to a young firefighter, dressed in costume, during the Mall-O-Ween event Oct. 31, 2020. (Jackie Jahfetson / The Dickinson Press)
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As witches, villains, superheroes and Disney-themed characters spring to the street for Halloween’s annual trick or treating, City of Dickinson police and fire officials recommend families to be careful and observant during the festive upcoming weekend with various safety tips.

“We encourage obviously some of our basic safety tips for parents is just making sure that they're notifying us of anything that they feel is suspicious, (with the) basic seeing something, saying something,” Dickinson Police Lt. Kylan Klauzer said, adding that he admires the city’s “vigilant, proactive citizens and community.”

Even if an incident seems minimal, Dickinson Police Department advises people to call it in.

“It's oftentimes information that we do want on the record. And so, do not be shy about calling our non-emergency number and getting information to us because we only (have) 44 and a half sworn in and we have 26,000 citizens out there that are key to keeping this thing running,” Klauzer said.

Though Halloween is not usually a day in the year with a high volume of calls for the Dickinson Fire Department, it’s important people are mindful of their surroundings, according to Deputy Fire Chief Mark Selle.

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“Being aware of the children on the streets while the fire department might be responding to a call,” Selle said. “Halloween is another holiday and emergencies don’t take holidays off. Taking simple fire safety precautions like keeping decorations far away from open flames and using battery-operated candles or glow-sticks in jack-o-lanterns can help ensure your holiday remains festive and fun.”

Halloween fire safety tips

  • Costumes should stay away from long trailing fabric. If a child is wearing a mask, the eye holes should be large enough so he or she can see out.

  • During the evening hours, children should carry flashlights for lighting or glow sticks as part of their costume.

  • Decorations are the first thing to ignite in 900 reported home fires each year. Two of every five of these fires were started by a candle, according to the National Fire Protection Association. All decorations should be kept away from open flames and other heat sources such as light bulbs and heaters. For example, dried flowers, cornstalks and crepe paper catch fire rather easily. Exits should also be clear of decorations so nothing blocks escape routes.

  • Using a battery-operated candle or glow-stick in jack-o-lanterns will help prevent fires. For those who want to light a real candle inside their carved jack-o-lantern, fire officials advise extreme caution and to use long, fireplace-style matches or a utility lighter. Lit pumpkins should be placed well away from anything that can burn and far enough out of the way of trick-or-treaters, doorsteps, walkways and yards.

  • Parents are encouraged to keep their children away from open flames including jack-o-lanterns with candles in them. Children should also know how to stop, drop and roll if their clothing catches on fire. If parents’ children are attending Halloween parties at other people’s homes, it’s also vital that they know how to exit the home in case of an emergency.

  • Smoke alarms should all be working inside a home.

For Halloween, DPD suggests parents keep a strict timeline on children and to ensure that they stick to the predetermined routes that they are familiar with, as well as in well-lit neighborhoods.
“We really encourage kids to try to be trick or treating with an adult, not going to a stranger's home and parents knowing the route that the kids are going to be taking,” Klauzer said, adding that today’s technology with tracking apps is a helpful tool such as with older children trick or treating with their friends.

Other safety measures include having reflective material and/or lighting devices on costumes and avoiding running on sidewalks.

“Especially with the amount of traffic flow that’s going around that night to different areas, walking is a big one,” Klauzer said. “... Black is a large part of a lot of different stuff that kids have on their costumes; but you can even get reflective tape and put it somewhere on the kid’s costume (so) they can be easily discerned when they’re out there gathering their sugar bags.

“... It is a busy night and there is a lot of traffic. Kids (are) getting taken to different places in town — that for sure it's recognizable and with that comes, public safety concerns and pedestrian safety.”

To reach the Dickinson Police Department, call 701-456-7759. To contact the Dickinson Fire Department, call 701-456-7625.

Jackie Jahfetson is a graduate of Northern Michigan University whose journalism path began in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan as a freelancer for The Daily Mining Gazette. Her previous roles include editor-in-chief at The North Wind and reporter at The Mining Journal in Marquette, Mich. Raised on a dairy farm, she immediately knew Dickinson would be her first destination west as she focuses on gaining aptitude for ranch life, crop farming and everything agriculture. She covers hard news stories centered on government, fires, crime and education. When not fulfilling deadlines and attending city commission meetings, she is a budding musician and singer.
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