Help your trick-or-treaters stay safe
By Attorney General Roy Cooper
Halloween can be a fun and creative time for families, but we also want it to be safe. Planning your kids' trick-or-treat routes and checking their costumes and candy carefully are the keys to celebrating Halloween safely. If you're a homeowner who expects trick-or-treaters to visit, take some simple steps to help keep neighborhood kids out of harm's way.
Tips for trick-or-treaters
* If your children plan to trick-or-treat, make sure they stick to neighborhoods they know well and visit only well-lit houses.
* A parent or other responsible adult should always accompany young children. Make sure older kids trick-or-treat in a group, and set a curfew.
* Plan the route your kids will take and tell them how you expect them to behave. Make sure kids know not to enter a house or get in a car without your permission.
* Check the sex offender registry at www.ncdoj.gov<http://www.ncdoj. gov/> when planning your child's trick-or-treat route. You can view maps that pinpoint registered offenders' addresses in your neighborhood, and sign up to get email alerts when an offender moves nearby. You can also download the free NC Sex Offender Registry mobile application<http://www.ncdoj. gov/Protect- Yourself/ Find-Sex- Offenders/ Sex-Offender- Mobile-Applicati on.aspx> (currently available for iPhone(r), iPad(r) and iPod touch(r) and coming soon for Android devices) to search for offenders by GPS location or street address from wherever you are.
* Trick-or-treaters should always carry a flashlight with fresh batteries, and all children need to know their home number and how to call 9-1-1 in case of emergency.
* Remind children to walk, not run, from house to house and to stick to sidewalks rather than cut across yards. If your neighborhood lacks sidewalks, make sure your kids know to walk on the left side of the road facing traffic.
Tips on costumes
* Help your child choose a costume that is brightly colored or will reflect light, or add reflective tape.
* Make sure that costumes and shoes fit well to prevent trips and falls.
* Select costumes with labels that say flame resistant or fire-retardant.
* Consider non-toxic, hypoallergenic makeup or a hat instead of a mask that can block eyesight.
* Choose costume props that are safe and won't cause injury; for example, a sword or broomstick made from cardboard.
* Tape or pin your child's name, address and phone number to his or her costume.
Tips on treats
* Check all treats before your children eat anything. If your children are old enough to trick-or-treat without you, make it clear that they must bring all candy home for your inspection before they eat even one piece.
* Throw away any candy that's unwrapped or partially wrapped, or has a strange odor, color or texture.
* To keep kids from munching on candy while they trick-or-treat, make sure they eat a good meal first or send a snack with them.
* Tell children not to accept any unwrapped food or open drinks they may be offered.
Tips for homeowners
* Remove tripping hazards such as flowerpots, tree limbs or garden hoses from around your porch and yard before neighborhood children come knocking.
* Turn on your porch light to let trick-or-treaters know they're welcome.
* Make sure your pets are secured.
* Place jack-o-lanterns with lit candles out of the reach of kids and away from anything flammable.
* If you plan to be away for trick-or-treating or a Halloween party, don't advertise the fact that your home will be unoccupied on social networking sites like Facebook.