Keep kids safe this Halloween

LAWRENCEVILLE - It's not surprising that most of the 26 pounds of candy Americans eat every year is consumed around Halloween.

But trick-or-treaters - and there are more than 36 million nationwide, according to the U.S. Census Bureau - don't only risk expanding their waistlines when they start knocking on doors. The combination of dark roads, costumed kids in streets and parents rushing home to join their trick-or-treaters can sometimes be a dangerous one.

Lt. Thomas Rutledge, spokesman for the Gwinnett County Fire Department, did not have any figures specific to Gwinnett about Halloween injuries. But he did have suggestions to help children and parents make sure they stayed safe on the holiday.

Kids' costumes should not be baggy to keep them from tripping, and any toy weapons that are part of a costume should not look real, Rutledge said.

Jack-o'-lanterns should be lit with flashlights, not candles, and decorations like cornstalks or dried leaves should be kept away from flames to avoid the risk of fire, Rutledge said. Candy that has been tampered with or is missing a wrapper should not be eaten.

Rutledge encouraged trick-or-treaters to carry a glow stick or flashlight as part of their costume, wear reflective tape and stick to the sidewalks whenever possible. Drivers should watch for children walking in the street, be careful backing out of driveways, look for kids darting between houses or cars and drive slowly and cautiously throughout the night.

This year, construction at the Interstate 85 and Ga. Highway 316 interchange has added to traffic troubles in the rush to get home early on Halloween. There will be no northbound lane closures on Tuesday, as was originally planned, but a lane will still be closed from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. southbound on I-85, Georgia Department of Transportation spokeswoman Teri Pope said.

That lane - the right outside lane from Ga. 316 to Pleasant Hill - will be used for bridge beam delivery, Pope said.