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Safety key to fun Halloween

Most of us consider Halloween to be a time of family fun, when parents can relive childhood memories by taking their little ones to neighborhood homes to trick or treat or to a carnival or other community event for games and prizes.

But common sense will tell you that many of the activities traditionally associated with Halloween — dressing in costumes, walking along sidewalks at night, crossing city streets and approaching houses to ask for treats — can be dangerous if not planned and supervised by responsible adults.

Plus, we need to keep in mind that the primary participants are children, typically very young children, who are excitable, easily frightened and difficult for motorists to see — especially if they suddenly decide to dart into the street.

Halloween is a time for children to let their imaginations run wild, but authorities warn that when out trick or treating tonight that everyone needs to remember that safety is the key to a happy evening.

Adult supervision is the primary consideration, Denton police Officer Orlando Hinojosa told us.

“You need to have an adult with you at all times, and don’t run across the street,” he said. “Running across the street is very dangerous and with it being dark out, you might not be seen.”

Hinojosa said that since the holiday is on a school night this year, he doesn’t expect large crowds to be roaming late in the evening. Even so, he said, the safest plan is to trick or treat during daylight hours when it’s easier to see and be seen.

Police officials said children should wear reflective clothing and carry a flashlight or glow stick to heighten their visibility and to help them navigate sidewalks in case it gets dark before they’re back on familiar ground.

Hinojosa said children should travel in groups accompanied by adults. Another important safety tip, he said, is to make sure children can see and breathe easily through whatever mask, wig or beard they are wearing as part of a costume.

Avoid costumes that hang low enough to drag on the ground because those can cause a child to trip, and always choose flame-resistant material for costumes in the event Halloween decorations or lights pose a danger. Trick or treaters should also wear comfortable footwear that provides good traction to help avoid stumbles and falls.

Other safety tips worth remembering are to stay within familiar neighborhoods and travel in a group. Always walk on the sidewalk.

Local police also advise trick or treaters to report anything that seems dangerous or threatening. A quick call to police can help keep you and your neighbors safe.

Once the booty is collected, parents should check every treat carefully to make sure that no one has tampered with the candy. Always throw away anything suspicious.

Pet owners should remember that Halloween can be a frightening time for animals. The SPCA of Texas advises keeping pets well away from doors when trick or treaters are expected, and always keep pets away from decorations.

Don’t give candy to your pets, the SPCA emphasized, because even small amounts of chocolate can prove fatal. The SPCA also advised against taking the family dog along on trick or treat outings. Pets feel safer and more comfortable in their own homes.

If you plan on driving tonight, use caution — all those little goblins can be unpredictable and difficult to see.

Let’s all do our part to make sure tonight is a fun time for everyone by taking precautions and using common sense. Keep children close at hand, well supervised and remember — fun and safety should go hand in hand at Halloween.