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Phoenix Forward

How to stay safe while trick-or-treating

Halloween safety for kids

Carving pumpkins, buying candy and finding costumes are often the first things that come to mind when parents think about Halloween, but in addition to making the holiday a celebration for the whole family, parents also need to look out for their children’s safety on this festive evening.

William Mann, a 27-year veteran of the Los Angeles Police Department and a faculty member in the College of Criminal Justice and Security at University of Phoenix, suggests following these trick-or-treating tips:

Go trick-or-treating with younger kids.

Take advantage of the fact that there is power in numbers, Mann advises. “Parents should not let their kids go alone, and I’d encourage more than one parent to go,” he adds.

Set limits for older kids.

If you have kids old enough to go without adult supervision, Mann recommends requesting that they travel in a group and adhere to check-in times and a curfew. It’s also a good idea to have them stay in a neighborhood they’re familiar with and stick to a preplanned route.

Be sure costumes are flame-retardant.

“This is something to consider because of candles in jack-o’-lanterns,” Mann says. Almost all store-bought costumes are flame-retardant. If you’re making a costume, use materials such as wool as opposed to nylon, which burns easily.

Make smart decisions about toy weapons.

If a costume requires a toy gun, “it should be made of a soft material like cardboard, not metal because that could hurt someone by accident,” Mann explains.

Convey to older children that vandalism is never acceptable.

“Make sure your kids know that vandalism is never OK, and that hurting animals is wrong as well,” Mann advises.

Avoid potentially dangerous homes.

Before trick-or-treating, “check state websites for sex offenders, and have your kids avoid those houses,” Mann says.

Wear light-colored or reflective clothes.

Encourage your kids to choose light-colored costumes. If a dark costume can’t be avoided, you can add reflective tape. Additionally, Mann suggests taking a flashlight and crossing the street at well-lit places, such as intersections.

Never go inside a house.

This seems like a no-brainer, but it’s important to remind your kids that the rule extends to strangers’ cars as well.


Inspect the candy.

Don’t let your kids eat any candy before you look it over. “Discard any candy,” Mann cautions, “that is not in a package or that has been tampered with.”