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Try to Avoid a 'Tricky' Halloween

Safety tips for a safe and fun Halloween.

It's that time of year again — a time when ghosts, goblins and the latest action movie characters hit the streets for one night to see if they'll be tricked or treated.

But sometimes with the excitement of haunted houses, costume parties and who gathers the most candy, safety can be forgotten.

That's why the Fairfax County Fire and Rescue Department wants to remind families how to be safe when decorating their houses with Halloween lights, jack-o-lanterns and dressing their children to hit the dark streets.

"Parents need to make sure their kids are seen," said Dan Schmidt, spokesman for Fairfax Fire and Rescue. "A lot of these kids have masks on, so they need to make sure they can see too."

Schmidt explained that because most children are out trick-or-treating once the sun sets, motorists can have a hard time seeing them until it's too late.

They encourage parents to sew or tape reflective striping on children's costumes and to tell their children to take off their masks when crossing the street, to help prevent any accidents.

"Every little group of children should have a working flashlight," said Schmidt. "A lot of pedestrians have recently been hurt, so children need to be able to see as well as they can."

Some other Fairfax County Fire and Rescue Halloween trick-or-treat safety tips include:

* Make sure all costumes are flame retardant — most commercial costumes are made of flame-retardant material, ask the fabric shop for fire-safe material for homemade costumes.

* Make sure children can see and be seen. Expand the eye holes in commercial masks to improve peripheral vision. Add reflective tape to costumes to make them more visible to motorists.

* Ensure each trick-or-treater has a working flash light.

* Tell the children to remove their masks and look both ways before crossing the street.

* Never let a group of children trick-or-treat alone. Adult supervision is a safety "must" during Halloween.

* Trick-or-treat only at homes of people you know.

* Instruct children never to eat candy or treats until they return home.

* Once at home, inspect all candies and fruits. Slice open the fruit to look for strange odors or any signs that the fruit has been altered or tampered with. Dispose of any treat that is unwrapped or appears to have been tampered with.

Families are also encouraged to pay close attention to Halloween decorations, such as jack-o-lanterns, that could easily catch on fire.

"They should not be left unattended and should not be too close to combustible materials," said Schmidt.

Instead of using candles that could easily catch in fire inside a pumpkin, Fire and Rescue recommend using a small string of holiday lights with yellow and red flashing bulbs that could be set inside. Another suggestion they offer would be using a battery powered candle.