Experts offer safety tips for Halloween for kids

LAWRENCEVILLE - Keeping little boys and ghouls safe while trick-or-treating this year can help ensure everyone has a happy Halloween, not a fright fest.

Experts offer a handful of tips that may prove especially helpful for parents who are uneasy about sending little ones out into the night. When outfitting children, keep in mind that costumes should fit properly, allowing free movement and vision. Baggy sleeves and billowing capes can be cute, but they could cause tripping and they are a fire hazard, said Thomas Rutledge, spokesman for the Gwinnett County Fire Department.

"It's easy for children and adults to get caught up in the excitement of costumes, candy and trick-or-treating," Rutledge said. "Planning ahead will make Halloween a safe and enjoyable time for all ages."

Also consider using makeup instead of masks, which can obstruct a child's field of vision, suggests the National Crime Prevention Council. Experts also recommend carrying a flashlight or glow stick and using reflective tape on costumes.

Adults should feed kids before sending them out to forage for candy, thus cutting down on late-night snacking. Decide who will accompany the children and pick a route on well-lighted streets away from busy intersections, said Todd Post, spokesman for the National Crime Prevention Council.

After hitting the streets, warn children to walk - not run - from house to house and avoid busy intersections. Also, stay on the porch or in the doorway of homes while accepting candy. Children should never enter a residence without permission from a chaperone, Post said.

When all the festivities are done, let the children enjoy a treat trade, swapping candy with their friends to get their favorites. Check out the goodies for any sign of tampering, paying special attention to homemade ones if you don't know the source.

Local fire officials offer some additional tips to avoid fire hazards: don't overload electrical outlets with holiday lighting or special effects, use flashlights in jack-o-lanterns instead of candles and keep paper and dry fall decorations away from open flames or other heat sources.