Originally Published: October 17, 2010 9:58 p.m.
As you buy Halloween costumes and decorations and prepare to go trick-or-treating, local law enforcement agencies urge people to keep safety in mind.
When buying or making Halloween costumes, parents should seek out fire-resistant materials, make sure the costumes are highly visible at night, and discourage carrying props that look like weapons, said Sgt. Brandon Bonney, spokesman for the Prescott Valley Police Department.
"If props are necessary, make sure the items have smooth tips and are flexible enough not to cause injury," Bonney said. "Use caution when carrying fake firearms, since today's plastic guns can easily be mistaken for a real weapon."
Make sure masks or other costume accessories don't limit children's sight, so they can see cars and people coming toward them and avoid tripping over landscaping while trick-or-treating, Bonney said.
When decorating your home for Halloween, use LED lights or glow sticks inside jack-o-lanterns instead of candles to reduce the risk of burns, Bonney said.
Homeowners should clear their walkways of any obstacles to keep trick-or-treaters from stumbling on their property, said Traces Gordon, crime prevention specialist with the Prescott Police Department.
Keep pets confined for their own and others' safety, Gordon said.
"Before Halloween night, parents can also search the Yavapai County Sheriff's Office website for local sex offenders so they know which homes not to go to," Gordon said.
Parents can visit the Yavapai County Sheriff's Office website at www.co.yavapai.az.us/Sheriff.aspx and under Programs and Services click on Sex Offender Update to determine if there are any sex offenders in their area and avoid trick-or-treating at those homes, added Dwight D'Evelyn, media and crime prevention coordinator for the Yavapai County Sheriff's Office.
On Halloween night, focus on supervision, illumination, and communication, Gordon said.
"Parents should take their children trick-or-treating and bring along their cell phone in case of emergencies," said Gordon, who added that many areas don't have street lights so making children easy to see is critical. "Do not let children go trick-or-treating alone."
Have children wear glow sticks, bracelets or necklaces, sew reflective tape to their costumes and treat bags, or carry flashlights to make them more visible, Gordon said. Parents should also carry extra batteries just in case the flashlights go out.
When out trick-or-treating, set a good example by slowing down when crossing streets and looking both ways and encouraging children to stay on the sidewalk whenever possible for their own safety, Gordon said.
If there is no sidewalk, trick-or-treaters should walk at the far edge of the roadway facing traffic, D'Evelyn.
Roads will be closed for most of the evening along Mount Vernon Avenue in Prescott for trick-or-treating beginning at 4 p.m. and ending at 9 p.m. on Halloween, said Sgt. Tim Fletcher, traffic section supervisor.
Drivers are asked to use extreme caution while driving on Halloween night and remember that children will be excited, distracted and may try to cross the street mid-block or run between parked cars, Gordon said.
"We'd also like to remind drivers to drive with care, because there are going to be many children out on the street trick-or-treating," Bonney said. "We'd also like to remind adults not to drink and drive."
Tell your children to never enter anyone's home while out trick-or-treating for any reason, Gordon said. If children are tired or need to use the bathroom, head home, Gordon advised.
"Please offer only store-bought securely wrapped treats to visitors," Gordon said. "Tell your children to wait to eat their candy until they are home and an adult has checked it for signs of tampering."
If your children bring home more candy than you expected, you can bring the extra candy on Tuesday, Nov. 2, to Dr. Robert Carlisi's dental office at 919 12th Place Suite 9 in Prescott where it will be collected for shipment to U.S. troops overseas as part of Operation Gratitude. Children donating their candy will be paid $1 for every pound of candy they bring in.