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Tips for a safer Halloween

Question: What can I do as a parent to keep Halloween safe for my children?

Answer: Halloween is a time for people to celebrate fall and a time for children to dress up in costumes and gather candy and other treats as part of their celebration. "Trick or treating" can be a fun time, but there are some steps children and their parents/guardians should take to help keep this a safe and fun activity.

First, don't let young children go trick or treating alone. They should be accompanied by an adult. That adult can be a parent/guardian or a parent/guardian of another child if children are going in a group. As kids get older, if a parent/guardian chooses to let their older children go without adult supervision, make sure they don't go alone and that you know where the group of children will be going. Also, make sure they have a way to communicate and a time for them to be home again. Having a set route to take and avoiding alleyways is a good safety net to help protect children and also gives a parent the area to look, in case the child doesn't come home on time.

Second, don't trick or treat at a house you don't know. If you don't know the people that live there or parent/guardian doesn't say it is OK to go there, then don't go there. While almost everyone giving out candy has no bad intentions, sometimes a person may and there is no way of knowing who that person may be. The easiest way to avoid danger from an unknown person's house is to not go to that house.

Third, make sure and wear costumes that allow the child to see clearly. Some costumes can block a child's ability to see, which can create a hazard. If the costume includes a mask, make sure the child can see the same with the mask on and with the mask off.

Fourth, wear a costume that has some reflectiveness to it, or isn't all dark. It is important to be visible, especially as light dimishes and it becomes more difficult to see and be seen. Another simple thing to do to be more visible is have glow sticks as bracelets and necklaces. This provides extra light, making people more visible. A flashlight can also be put into the jack-o-lantern or bag that will be used to store the treats. This too will provide more light and a flashlight will be readily available if one is needed while out and about.

Fifth, have a gathering of your child's friends at your house or one of their friend's houses for a supervised get together. This is a way for kids and their friends to stay together in one place and have a safe and fun time. A gathering like this can also be a way for the parents of the kids to be together, have fun and help supervise the gathering. Getting to know other children's parents can be beneficial now and in the future when children talk about going to a friend's house. Parents will have already gotten to know each other a little better and will have an easier time communicating with other parents about children's plans and activities.

So, what's the bottom line? Be sure to take a few simple steps to help keep Halloween a safe and fun activity. Also, if you see anything unusual going on while you are out and about do not hesitate to call the Alexandria Police Department at (320) 763-6631.

The Alexandria Police Department and the Echo Press have teamed together to create "Cop Talk, Ask the Alexandria Police Department." Each article will feature an answer to a question from a reader, a safety tip or some timely topic. If you have a question about crime prevention or safety, send an e-mail to