Happy Halloween—Safety urged tonight

Posted: Wednesday, October 31, 2012 1:00 am | Updated: 3:39 pm, Wed Oct 31, 2012.
By Suzanne Le Breton St. Tammany News | 1 comment

As thousands of little ghouls and goblins and pirates and princesses head to the streets tonight for Halloween, authorities are asking parents and drivers to be extra cautious to prevent the night having a tragic ending.

The St. Tammany Parish Sheriff’s Office reminds parents to be prepared and consider safety when planning trick-or-treating routes and costumes.
Sheriff Jack Strain offered these guidelines:
• Walk with your kids up to the door.
• Stay in neighborhoods that are familiar to you.
• Be very aware of loose, flowing costumes. Many homes will have candles on the porch.

He said to keep the child-to-adult ratio low to ensure all children are being properly monitored at all time for safety. “Don’t have one adult trying to manage large group of kids,” Capt. George Bonnett, spokesman for the Sheriff’s Office said.

Kevin Foltz, spokesman for Slidell Police said to make sure costumes are flame-retardant and light or bright in color. Dark costumes should have reflective or glow in the dark tape. Costumes should also be short enough to prevent tripping.

He advises use face paints rather than a mask that can obstruct both breathing and vision, and to make sure every child has a nametag complete with their address and telephone numbers and a flashlight.

Treats should not be eaten until the child is home so that you can inspect everything first. Look for signs of tampering and discard all loose and homemade treats (unless you know the person who provided them.

While moving vehicles, dark streets and badly fitting costumes pose dangers for young children; in today’s age parents also need to be especially diligent in knowing who is behind the door their children are knocking on. As Halloween approached, Strain today reminded St. Tammany parents to use his department’s Website to identify registered sex offenders in neighborhoods before bringing children trick-or-treating. Parents may visit www.stpso.com for a map of all sex offenders in St. Tammany Parish. (Click on the red “Sex Offenders” button on the right hand side of the main page). Maps are generated within a certain radius of an address entered by the user. Detailed information is provided, including a picture of the offender and a description of their original offense. State law mandates that sex offenders stay inside on Halloween, turn out the lights, and not answer the door. On Halloween, St. Tammany patrol deputies check every single offender’s residence to ensure they are in compliance with state law. Residents can also sign up for automatic sex offender email notification on the Website. Subscribers automatically receive an email when a sex offender moves into their neighborhood. Foltz said to warn children, at this time and always, to never accept a ride with a stranger and to always tell their parent exactly where they will be going, what time to expect them home and to stick to the plan.

Donald Redman, spokesman for AAA, warned that in addition to those out trick-or-treating, motorist also need to be cautious tonight when out and about.
He has asked motorists to avoid traveling through residential areas. “If possible, try to avoid cutting through residential areas where trick-or-treaters are likely to be present,” Redman said. Obey all traffic signs and signals. “The risk of killing a pedestrian increases more than many people realize with just small increases in speed,” he said. “A pedestrian is nearly twice as likely to be killed if they’re hit by a car going 30 mph compared to at 25 mph, according to the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety. What seems like a small difference-just 5 mph-can literally be the difference between life and death.” Redman said to watch for children walking on roadways, medians and curbs. In dark costumes, they’ll be harder to see at night. Also, be aware that trick-or-treaters may not be paying attention to traffic and may be trying to cross in the middle of a block or between parked cars. Motorists should scan far ahead when driving in residential areas, watch for children and cautiously monitor their actions. Turn on your headlights to make yourself more visible – even in the daylight. AAA recommends that parents accompany young trick-or-treaters at least until the age of 12. Since children are small and often hard to see even in well-lit situations, it’s important to be sure a child’s Halloween costume is flame-retardant and visible with retro-reflective material if out trick-or-treating past dusk. Parents and trick-or-treaters should cross streets only at the corner, and never between parked cars or mid-block. Be sure that approaching cars come to a complete stop before stepping into the roadway.

Firefighters, worker injured in home fire

Posted: Wednesday, October 3, 2012 1:00 am
By Debbie Glover St. Tammany News

A fire about noon Friday began when a natural gas line ignited in an attic on Hummingbird Drive in Tchefuncta Country Club Estates. The fire injured the plumber working at the new residence under construction and the insulation that was burned also irritated the skin of firefighters at the scene, who were later transported to St. Tammany Parish Hospital, said Fire District 2 Chief Mike Stein.

“There was smoke from the chemicals in the insulation but the guys had their gear on. Later, when taking their gear off, it brushed against their skin and they suffered skin irritation. Three firefighters were transported to the hospital from the scene and one was transported to the hospital from the fire station later that night,” Stein said.
The fire was contained to the attic, Stein said.

The plumber was treated by Acadian Ambulance at the scene, but refused transport to the hospital for further treatment. Stein said the plumber had received burns on his nose, face, arms and hands.

Construction of the house at the time of the fire was almost complete. The firefighters stayed at the site about three hours, Stein said. He thanked FD 4 and FD 12 who assisted with the call and Stein said FD 8 in Abita Springs helped the department Saturday by cleaning their gear in their commercial washers and dryers to get the insulation off.

Seminarians evacuate as fire hits St. Joseph Abbey

Updated: Sep 26, 2012 9:29 PM CDT
Written by: Nancy Parker

Covington, La. – A seminarian’s early morning prayers may have given firefighters the time they needed to control a blaze on the grounds of St. Joseph Abbey in Covington.

“Had those men not worked like they did, this building could have been destroyed,” said Father Gregory Boquet, rector at the Abbey.

He surveyed the damage from the three-alarm fire at the seminary, and applauds St. Tammany Fire District 12.

The fire broke out after 2:00 a.m. in the computer server room at the St. Pius X building on the Abbey grounds. It is the same building where dozens of students slept. 64 seminarians were evacuated.

One seminarian happened to be praying in the chapel around the same time the fire started. He alerted a professor.

“I told him to pull the fire alarm so I can make the 911 call,” said seminarian Christian Gonzalez.

“I live in a separate building so we all heard the alarm and we tried to knock on doors and get everybody up and going,” said Nick Adam.

Bouquet says there are backup computer systems off site, to recover information on the burned servers. The state fire marshal’s office estimates repairs will cost around $300,000