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Top Tips for a Safe Halloween

Keep your children, pets and house safe this October 31st.

Oct. 31 is the one day a year on which kids (and many adults) let loose and have fun – dressing up as their favorite sports and music personality, movie star or the more traditional zombies, vampires, ghouls and ghosts.

The Montgomery County and Prince George’s Police Forces and Fire Departments as well as the ASPCA have issued a number of tips for keeping children, adults and even pets safe this Halloween.

For trick-or-treaters:

  1. Safety in Numbers – Always trick or treat in groups, not only is this good for general safety, but groups are more easily seen by cars.
  2. Light up the Night – While the economy may make this one difficult, some type of lighting or reflective material on costumes can really help make it easier to see children and parents in the dark. Carrying flashlights can save lives on those poorly-lit streets.
  3. Candy Check – Parents should closely review treats before allowing children to indulge. Treats that are unwrapped, or show signs of having been opened, should not be eaten. Fruit should be sliced into small pieces and checked for foreign objects. Keep small pieces of candy away from infants and very small children, as they can easily become lodged in the throat and cause choking. 
  4. Screams are for more than Scares – Tell children that if they are approached by strangers to make noise – yell out and try to draw the attention of others.
  5. Enjoy Treats Rather than Tricks – Spending a few extra dollars to be safe and really illuminating the front of your house or staying outside with your neighbors can help keep trick-or-treaters from falling and may help deter those tricksters who like to smash pumpkins, throw eggs or toilet paper the trees.

For Halloween party-goers:

  1. Don’t drink and drive. 
  2. Make sure that all persons in the car are secured by seat belts.
  3. Don’t wear the mask or any other portion of your costume that will obstruct your vision.
  4. Take extra caution for potential trick-or-treaters on the streets - many costumes are hard to see at night. 
  5. Before drinking, designate a sober driver, and leave your car keys at home.
  6. If you’re impaired, take a taxi, call a sober friend or family member, or use public transportation so you are sure to get home safely.
  7. To receive a free cab ride home (up to a $30 fare), between Wednesday, October 31st, 2012, from 10:00 p.m. to 4:00 a.m. on Thursday, November 1st, 2012, call 800-200-8294 (TAXI). You must be 21 or older to use the SoberRide service.
  8. Reduce fire risk by using battery-powered lights instead of candles in your jack-o-lanterns.

For pets:

  1. No tricks, no treats: That bowl of candy is for trick-or-treaters, not for Scruffy and Fluffy. Chocolate in all forms—especially dark or baking chocolate—can be very dangerous for dogs and cats. Candies containing the artificial sweetener xylitol can also cause problems. If you do suspect your pet has ingested something toxic, please call your veterinarian or the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center at (888) 426-4435.
  2. Dress-up can be a big mess-up for some pets. Please don't put your dog or cat in a costume UNLESS you know he or she loves it (yup, a few pets are real hams!). For some pets, however, wearing a costume may cause undue stress.
  3. All but the most social dogs and cats should be kept in a separate room away from the front door during peak trick-or-treating hours. Too many strangers can be scary and stressful for pets. Also, your pet may not recognize a familiar person wearing a costume and may become aggressive.
  4. A carved pumpkin certainly is festive, but do exercise caution if you choose to add a candle. Pets can easily knock over a lit pumpkin and cause a fire. Curious kittens especially run the risk of getting burned or singed by candle flames.  See tip No. 5 under “For party-goers” above.
  5. IDs, please! Always make sure your dog or cat has proper identification. If for any reason your pet escapes and becomes lost, a collar and tags and/or a microchip can be a lifesaver, increasing the chances that he or she will be returned to you.

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