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Halloween a time for fun and safety

Parents and their children will get a chance to get safety tips from police, firefighters and ambulance medics Saturday at the first Halloween Safety Fair in Modesto.

Event organizers want to give families a chance to interact with public safety officials in a fun-filled setting before Halloween — a holiday that can present a lot of hazards for trick-or-treaters.

Modesto police community service officer Stephanie Lamb said the city wanted to continue the momentum of this year's National Night Out events, so officials decided to organize the safety fair.

"We wanted to do something for the public in the off-season," Lamb said. "It's geared around Halloween, but it has safety aspects for everything and lots of fun stuff for the kids."

The safety fair will be held in the Save Mart parking lot at 801 Oakdale Road, just north of Scenic Drive in Modesto. The event, which is free and open to the public, is scheduled from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

At the event, officials plan to remind parents to purchase or make reflective costumes for their children and urge drivers to be extra cautious on Halloween.

"We want them to be prepared for the unexpected when they're out on the road," said Sgt. Brian Findlen, a Modesto police spokesman. "There will be hundreds to thousands of children on the street on Halloween. The last thing we want is to have a collision involving a child."

Numerous Modesto police officials will be available to speak with parents and their children. The department's Special Weapons and Tactics armored vehicle, a patrol car and a K-9 unit will be on display.

Attendees also can check out a Modesto Fire Department engine and the fire safety trailer to teach children about the dangers of fire and smoke.

An American Medical Response ambulance will be on hand, too. The Stanislaus County Office of Emergency Services, the Stanislaus County Office of Education and American Red Cross officials will also be participating in the event.

In addition to the displays and emergency responders, McGruff the Crime Dog will be at the event to visit with children and hand out treat bags.

Free child identification kits, DNA kits, bicycle helmets and Halloween safety kits will be offered while supplies last. Specially trained technicians will be available to help teach parents proper child safety seat usage.

Findlen said the volume of emergency calls usually doesn't give officers enough time to speak with residents, especially children.

"It gives the kids a chance to see (public safety officials) as people who are approachable," Findlen said. "This is an opportunity for us to share safety tips with them."

Bee staff writer Rosalio Ahumada can be reached at rahumada@modbee.com or 578-2394.

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