Baltimore County Now
Natalie Litofsky, Public Safety Office of Media and Communications
From the spooky decorations to the scary costumes, Halloween is a holiday that embraces the fun side of fear. Though zombies and vampires are imaginary dangers, it’s important to watch out for a real safety hazard on Halloween – cars.
According to the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration, Halloween is the second-deadliest day of the year for pedestrians.
Parents and children alike should remember these road safety tips while trick-or-treating:
· Trick-or-treat while there is still daylight. The sun sets around 6 p.m., so keep this in mind when planning your route. Talk with your neighbors in advance to let them know you’ll be trick-or-treating earlier in the evening.
· Stay within a familiar neighborhood. This is the best way to travel where you know there are safe places to cross the street.
· Be a role model when it comes to obeying pedestrian traffic laws. Cross only at a crosswalk or intersection, and only when signal indicates you may cross. Tell your kids to walk on the sidewalk. If there are no walkways, stay as close to the curb as possible.
· Provide children with flashlights or other non-flammable light sources so they can see and be seen while walking. Glow bracelets or reflective tape are also a good way to increase visibility after dark.
· If your child’s costume includes a mask, make sure the eye holes do not obstruct vision. Try a test walk down a hallway in your home to practice looking for traffic while wearing a mask.
· Kids should always be accompanied by an adult while trick-or-treating. As a general rule, it’s best to have one adult for every three to six children.
· If you are driving a car on Halloween, be aware of the increase in pedestrian traffic. Obey the posted speed limit, make sure your headlights are on and keep an eye out for pedestrians along the roadway.
More useful information on pedestrian safety can be found online at Baltimore County’s Walk Safe resource page.
Baltimore County Police Sergeant Pat Stonko, Burglary Unit
The blog title sums up what some criminals think about this time of year. There are some things to think about whether you’re on your way to the ocean or staying at home.
- Burglars are opportunists and look for the easiest way in. Unlocked doors and windows make life simple for a burglar. If you can, resist the temptation to leave windows ajar at night, or when you go out during the day when the weather gets hot. It’s easy to pry a window open if given a little wiggle room at the bottom of the window.
- You can’t always stop burglars, but you can deter them by making it difficult to enter your home.
- Sheds and garages are targeted more in the summer months. They often have bicycles and lawn equipment inside. Heavy duty locks on sheds slow down a criminal and may deter him altogether.
- Have a family member or trusted neighbor pick up your mail and all other deliveries. Piles of mail in the mailbox are clues to your absence.
- Going away? The world can wait to see your vacation pictures until you get home.
- Share memorable moments with family and friends through texts or emails. Steer clear of social media when you’re on the road.
- Use location spotters on smart phones with caution. The GPS tells your friends and family where you are. The spotter is also a helpful tool for a burglar. He can estimate how long he has to steal your valuables before you arrive home.
- There are people we inadvertently tell that we are we going away: the bank cashier, the cashier at the store, the person at the doctor’s office. We are so excited at the prospect of a vacation, we need to share it. Be careful sharing your plans with people you don’t know.
- If possible, check your credit cards and bank cards while you’re away. This will help you guard against credit card or identity theft while you’re having fun.
- Check your smoke, fire and carbon monoxide detectors before you leave for vacation or that quick, one day get-away. If a fire breaks out, the alarm could save your home and maybe a neighbor’s home as well.
Have a nice summer, have a great vacation and when driving, be sure to buckle up.
Joanne Williams, Baltimore County Director of Aging
· According to the best available estimates, between 1 and 2 million Americans age 65 or older have been injured, exploited, or otherwise mistreated by someone on whom they depended for care or protection.
· Data on elder abuse in domestic settings suggest that only 1 in 14 incidents, excluding incidents of self-neglect, come to the attention of authorities.
· Current estimates put the overall reporting of financial exploitation at only 1 in 25 cases, suggesting that there may be at least 5 million financial abuse victims each year.
· It is estimated that for every one case of elder abuse, neglect, exploitation, or self-neglect reported to authorities, about five more go unreported.
These facts from the National Center on Elder Abuse are quite startling. Many of us think it could not happen to us or someone we love. But elder abuse happens all too frequently, in private homes, assisted living facilities and nursing homes. Often the abusers are family members or trusted caregivers. Studies show that one in ten older adults experience abuse; the number is higher for financial exploitation. Many seniors are reluctant to report abuse due to fear of retaliation, inability to report, or desire to protect the abuser.
Public Forum to Make a Difference and Raise Awareness
In observance of World Elder Abuse Awareness Day (WEAAD), Baltimore County Restoring Elder Safety Today (BC-REST), our area’s elder abuse prevention coalition, is hosting a public forum to educate concerned citizens, professionals and older adults about elder abuse. Learn how we all can make a difference in keeping seniors safe! Featured speakers include experts from AARP and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) who will discuss their roles in fighting elder abuse and how older adults can protect themselves. The CFBP’s motto is “An informed consumer is the first line of defense against abusive practices.”
All are invited to attend this free forum at the Owings Mills Library on June 13 from 10 a.m. – 12 noon. Hear from the experts, visit exhibitors, enjoy refreshments and network with local aging professionals. No registration is required. Social workers can earn two Category II CEU’s for attending.
Come and make a difference in stamping out elder abuse!
For more details, please contact the Baltimore County Department of Aging at 410-887-4200 or go online to http://www.bcpl.info/stopelderabuse.