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Pumpkin Patrol protects candy pirates

PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. -- Ghosts and goblins are set to roam Peterson Air Force Base with a singular mission -- collect candy. In order to keep trick-or-treaters safe, Staff Sgt. Tandra Sudman and Tech. Sgt. Ellen Cooley, both 21st Security Forces Squadron police services NCOs, are looking for volunteers for the annual Pumpkin Patrol.

"Pumpkin Patrol is a base-wide event where any individuals who work on Peterson AFB can volunteer their time to patrol the housing areas to make sure that kids are safe," Sudman said.

Trick-or-treat hours on base are 6:30-8:30 p.m. Oct. 31. Volunteers will report to Building 1376 at 5:30 p.m., and Sudman and Cooley are hoping to have 50 volunteers.

Pumpkin Patrol will be scouting base housing in groups of two, Sudman said. They will be in uniform, if military, and will be wearing traffic vests, carrying flashlights, and a have an SFS radio for easy identification.

In the three years Sudman has been at Peterson AFB, there haven't been any Halloween-related accidents.

Whether trick-or-treating on base or off, there are several things parents and kids can do to prevent a safety mishap.

"They need to have a route planned, and we advise them to have cell phones," Cooley said. "They should also have reflective gear, whether it be a flashlight or glow sticks, some type of reflective tape. Dress warm because it's going to be cold."

Darron Haughn, 21st Space Wing chief of flight safety, said costumes should be fire retardant and should not pose a tripping hazard. Masks should have large eye holes. "They have to have peripheral vision. If they can't wear a mask that gives them that option, nontoxic face paint is your best bet for breathability and to keep unobstructed vision."

Haughn also advises parents get out and walk with their kids, no matter how old they are, to ensure they are safe from strangers.

Cooley also said trick-or-treaters shouldn't go into any houses. "Go to the door, and that's as far as we want you to go," she said.

"Remember to be polite," Sudman said. "Don't run through resident's yards and gardens, (trick-or-treaters) need to make sure they use sidewalks and driveways."

Halloween also poses certain risks for adults, Haughn said. "Halloween in Colorado accounts for about 350 DUIs each year. There were 41 in Colorado Springs alone in 2009."

Anyone out driving should be aware of other drivers, as well as kids on the streets. "Minimize distracted driving and cut your speed limit in residential neighborhoods," Haughn said.

For more information about Pumpkin Patrol or Halloween safety, call 556-3484.

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