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Hurricane debris adds safety concerns for trick-or-treaters

Children out walking might encounter large piles left from Matthew

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Hurricane Matthew has added some unexpected safety concerns for Halloween trick-or-treating.

Crews across Northeast Florida are still in the process of clearing branches, stumps and other storm-related debris that is piled along sidewalks and streets.

Those piles could pose a safety risk for small children who will be out when the sun goes down in some neighborhoods Monday night.

"Here you don't have a sidewalk, so tonight when kids are trick-or-treating, they're going to have to come around the property or just walk out here onto the street. That's something drivers need to be aware of,” News4Jax crime and safety analyst Gil Smith said.

Smith suggested that parents have a discussion with their children about the debris piles before they hit the streets.

"Walking around debris is something kids are going to have to do tonight,” Smith said.

The debris piles include prickly branches that could snag or puncture costumes or scratch them if they get too close. It's also a good idea to revisit pedestrian safety and remind children to be cautious around large piles of debris or when they walk near the street.

"Tonight being Halloween, people will be more lenient about kids walking onto their property or their grass,” Smith said. “If there is road debris that's out there, it may not be safe for them to walk on the street and get around the debris. It may be safer for them to just walk on the property to avoid being out in traffic."

Smith also advised drivers to be extra cautious and to drive at least 10 miles under the posted speed limit while the children are out.

Some other tips:

  • Make sure your children wear something bright on their costumes, like reflective gear, or send them out with a flashlight, so they can be more visible at night.
  • It's also a good idea for them to wear closed-toe shoes.