Halloween frights should be fun, so parents need to keep in mind some simple things to keep their children safe while trick-or-treating.
Make sure costumes are flame-resistant, advises Prescott Valley Police Sgt. Brandon Bonney. And Traces Gordon, crime prevention specialist with the Prescott Police Department, recommends adding reflective tape, glow-in-the-dark fabric paint, LED lights or glow bracelets to children's costumes to make them more visible, especially to drivers.
Do not allow children to carry real weapons, and make sure props such as swords have smooth tips and are soft and flexible to prevent injury, Bonney said.
Bonney urges parents to discourage children from pointing weapons at each other.
"Air-soft guns are almost exact replicas of real guns," Bonney said. "The fear they cause to people and officers trying to pick out whether they are real or not from a distance in low light or high-stress crowded situations is a concern as we approach Halloween."
Drivers are urged to slow down and watch for children carefully Halloween night, because kids may be distracted, crossing mid-block or running between parked cars.
Before Halloween night, parents should go to the website sheriffalerts.com/cap_main.php?office=54056 to search for local sex offenders so they know which homes to avoid.
Parents should feed trick-or-treaters a filling dinner which makes them less likely to eat the candy they collect before parents can check it for signs of tampering, Bonney said. The toll-free phone number to the Poison Control Center is 1-800-222-1222.
Trick-or-treat in familiar neighborhoods, avoid poorly lit homes, and encourage children to stay on the sidewalks whenever possible, Bonney said.
Parents should accompany younger children to the door as they trick-or-treat, and have a cellphone handy to report any suspicious activity to police immediately.
"Make sure older children who go out with friends take a cellphone with them, use a pre-planned route, and set a time they must be home," Gordon said.
Carefully watch children around jack-o-lanterns, other items with open flames and heat sources, and consider using LED lights and glow sticks in pumpkins instead of candles to reduce the risk of fire or burns, Bonney said.
Parents should also consider alternative activities to trick-or-treating, such as carnivals or "trunk-or-treat" events.
Homeowners should keep outside lights on, clear walkways of obstacles, confine pets for their safety, and only offer store-bought, securely wrapped treats, Gordon said.
To accommodate the immensely popular tradition of trick-or-treating along Mt. Vernon in Prescott, the street will be closed to traffic from 4-9 p.m. Traffic will be rerouted for most of the evening, and there will be a large police presence in the neighborhood, Gordon said.