Keep Trick-or-Treaters Safe This Halloween

With parties, festivals and lots of candy to keep trick-or-treaters occupied, this weekend is sure to be a busy time for families.

But before children venture out, make sure to review these safety tips from the Columbia Police Department:

Plan Ahead

- Choose costumes that are bright and reflective. Make sure shoes fit children well and costumes are short enough to prevent tripping, entanglement or contact with flame.

- Consider adding reflective tape to costumes and trick-or-treat bags for greater visibility.

- Secure emergency identification such as name, address and phone number discreetly to Halloween attire or a bracelet.

- When shopping for costumes, wigs or accessories, buy only those labeled as flame-resistant and stay away from masks that can limit or block eyesight. Consider a decorative hat as a safe alternative.

- Think twice before allowing simulated knives, guns or swords as part of a costume. If such props must be used, be certain they do not appear authentic and are soft and flexible to prevent injury.

- Provide flashlights with fresh batteries for all children and their escorts.

- Teach children their home phone number and to how call 911 (or their local emergency number).

- Openly discuss appropriate and inappropriate behavior at Halloween time.

During Trick-or-Treating

A parent or responsible adult should always accompany young children on their neighborhood rounds. Also, remind all trick-or-treaters to:

- Use a flashlight so they can see and be seen.

- Trick-or-treat only in well-known neighborhoods at homes that have porch lights on.

- Remain on well-lit streets and use sidewalks.

- Never enter a stranger's home or car for a treat.

- Obey all traffic and pedestrian regulations and always walk. Never run across a street.

- Only cross the street as a group in established crosswalks.

- Remove any mask or item that will limit vision before crossing a street, driveway or alley.

- Don't assume the right of way. Motorists may have trouble seeing trick-or-treaters. Just because one car stops, doesn't mean others will.

- Never consume unwrapped food items or open beverages that are offered.

After Trick-or-Treating

- Have children wait until they are home before consuming treats. Though tampering is rare, a responsible adult should closely examine all treats and throw away any spoiled, unwrapped or suspicious items.

- Make sure items that can cause choking (such as hard candies), are given only to those of an appropriate age.

For additional safety tips or fun Halloween alternatives visit www.columbiasc.net/calendar.

- Mindy Lucas