Know More on staying safe this Halloween

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GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. (KKCO) -- Parents closer to home experience scary thoughts this week after a young local girl told her mother she was approached by strangers two separate times.

Grand Junction Police investigated and found nothing, but even with no injuries, they're increasing patrols.

Know more about keeping your kids safe, especially with Halloween just one week away.

Thousands of local children will be out on the streets trick-or-treating, sometimes without the supervision of their parents. That's why law enforcement is helping parents make sure this can be a safe and fun Halloween for all.

Overcast skies and changing leaves can only mean one thing: Fall has arrived, and Halloween is nearly here. For parents, however, this year may be spookier than last. Recent events have led parents to be on high alert, so for many, it's all about taking precautions.

"Go out with your kids, be with them while they're trick or treating," Mesa County Sheriff’s Office spokesperson Heather Benjamin said of Halloween this year. "Go to homes you're familiar with, that you feel comfortable with. Stay in your neighborhood."

And now, parents are getting some help from a smartphone app. Mother Keli Wilson got the idea for her Alert ID app after getting separated from her children at an amusement park.

The free app allows users to see sex offenders residing or working in the area, something that could come in handy when planning those trick-or-treating routes.

"[App users are] able to see the interactive maps that show sex offenders in their area," Wilson said of her app. "Whenever anything changes in a sex offender's profile, their address, their work, they get a new tattoo, anything at all, our members are notified."

Local law enforcement also encourages families educate themselves where registered sex offenders are living before ringing any doorbells.

"Just to be aware of them, perhaps you just don't go to those houses for trick-or-treating. You just avoid them,” Benjamin said.

For some families, other community events may be the answer to staying safe this Halloween. CMU is inviting parents and children to collect candy through the residence halls Halloween night.

"I think it's a really good opportunity to build relations between the college and the community, and get students more involved, a little bit more invested," CMU residence hall coordinator Phillip Lundquist said.

Other community groups are coming together to do the same, from downtown Main Street to the Mesa Mall.

"Those are great events, if that's what you want to do as a parent and not go door to door, those are great alternatives," Benjamin said.

Though Halloween serves as an important reminder to parents to talk about safety with kids, authorities say they should really be talking about it all the time.

"Parents shouldn't just focus on keeping their kids safe and talking to them about safety now because it's Halloween," Benjamin said.

Crime Stoppers and the Mesa County Sheriff's Office will be hosting a free class for parents Thursday, Oct. 25. It will address with parents what they need to teach their kids, including how to identify and avoid dangerous situations. The class will be held at the Two Rivers Convention Center at 7:30 p.m.

Know More about Halloween Safety:
- Costume selection: Costumes should be fire safe and flame resistant. Costumes should also allow free movement and provide clear vision.
- Children should have reflectors on their costumes, or carry flashlights so cars can better see them.
- Parents should take pictures of their trick-or-treaters in costume before the evening begins This way, law enforcement knows exactly what the child looks like should he/she get separated.
- Parents are encouraged to go door-to-door with children. Those who go without parents should travel in large groups.
- Parents should check candy before children indulge. Pay special attention to homemade treats, and look for tampering of wrappers.
- Drivers should be especially cautious Halloween night because of the increased foot traffic.
- If you choose to drive your trick-or-treaters, you could activate your hazard lights to alert other cars.
- Pre-plan a route and know what houses you will and will not be going to.
- Check the registered sex offenders list.

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