Safety concerns haunt Officer’s Circle

Halloween is approaching and trick-or-treating and costumes are not all parents have to worry about, according to U senior Jane Thatcher.

Thatcher, a resident at the Bennion Center Service House on Officers’ Circle, said weather conditions, traffic, contaminated candy and other safety issues haunt this year’s Halloween holiday.

To offset the concerns surrounding the holiday weekend, residents of the U’s Officers’ Circle at Fort Douglas plan to transform the area into a haunted hollow from 5:30 to 8 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 29 to give children a safe place to trick-or-treat.

“We really wanted to do some kind of service project for Halloween,” Bennion Service House Resident Lis Jacques said. “We thought it would be great to host an event that includes all the houses in the circle and would benefit the community.”

According to Jacques, the idea started as a program for disadvantaged or disabled children, but was opened to the public to give children throughout the community a safe and fun place to spend Halloween.

One of the people that lives in the Bennion house, Elise Dumke, works with disabled children and that is where the idea came from, she said.

Jacques added that the event was not based on safety, but on giving all children the ability to enjoy Halloween.

“The houses will all be wheelchair accessible,” she said. “It will give children from all backgrounds and situations an opportunity to have a normal Halloween.”

However, residents will take certain precautions to insure safety around the circle, according to Thatcher.

“We can guarantee there will be no traffic on Officers’ Circle and we will have supervision all over the event,” she said. “As for safety on campus, we cannot control that because we cannot block off all of Fort Douglas.”

Alice Graveley, a sophomore at the U and mother of two children, said that the event was a good idea.

“We always go trick-or-treating with the children and look through the candy when we get home,” she said. “So far we haven’t found anything, but if I did, that would probably be the end of it and I would have concerns about letting my children trick-or-treat.”

Graveley added that she wished events like the haunted hollow were publicized in advance.

“I wish I would have known about the program before we made other plans,” she said.

Sergeant Linn Rohland with the University of Utah Police Department said there are preventative measures children and parents can take to ensure a safe Halloween.

“The most important thing is for people to be aware that there are little children out and about wearing costumes,” she said.

Rohland said many of the costumes and masks limit the vision and movements of the children wearing them.

“Parents need to have their children wear costumes that are safe,” she said. “People in vehicles need to pay special attention to the road and understand that many of the costumes are dark and hard to see.”

Rohland advised children who plan on trick-or-treating this year to carry light sticks or flashlights to be easier to see and to not go into areas they are not familiar with.

“It is important for children to carry some kind of light,” she said. “This is the time of year people need to be extra careful.”

According to Poison Control Representative Barbara Crouch, the main calls they receive during Halloween involve glow sticks.

“Our biggest exposures for the holiday in the past have been children biting into glow sticks,” she said. “There is always a risk with candy and the parents should always go through and inspect the candy, but we have not experienced anything like that before.”

Rohland added people should be aware that around Halloween, there are a lot of parties with alcohol involved.

“There are a lot of older people that drive under the influence of alcohol on Halloween,” she said. “It is important to have designated drivers or to make arrangements to stay over if you will be drinking this weekend.”

Russell Short, prevention specialist for the U’s Alcohol and Drug Education Center, said students who do drink during Halloween should be extremely careful.

“Even though the U is a dry campus, that does not mean that students do not drink,” he said. “Our main concern is that people do not drink and drive.”

Steven Hamilton, resident adviser of the Crocker Science House on Officers’ Circle, said he hopes the haunted hollow will become a tradition.

“Our house will be transformed into a mad scientist house,” he said. “It will be a really good thing and the idea was that we would hold it every year as a combined project between the houses.”

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