Photo from Public Domain Pictures.

Various county public safety agencies have compiled a list of tips to help ensure that everyone has a safe Halloween.

The tips include how to keep pets protected. Halloween is the second-busiest time of year for pet shelters, which end up taking in animals that have escaped during trick-or-treating.

The list is long, so rather than try to summarize it and risk missing an important point, the Source is posting it in full.

Trick or Treating:  

  • The most important safety tip is to trick-or-treat only in neighborhoods and at homes known to your family. 
  • Only visit homes with a porch light on, only accept treats at the door and don’t go inside.
  • A parent, other familiar adult, or responsible older brother or sister should always accompany younger children.
  • Carry a flashlight.
  • Walk on sidewalks where available, and cross the street at the corner or in a crosswalk.
  • Walk on the left side of the road facing traffic if there are no sidewalks.
  • When crossing, look left, right and left again before crossing the street.
  • Older children should plan out a trick-or-treating route with their parents, wear a watch and return home at an agreed upon time. A cell phone can facilitate staying in contact.
  • Children should not eat collected candy until an adult has inspected it.
  • Unwrapped or partially wrapped candy should be thrown away.
  • Suspicious activity should be reported to police. The police non-emergency number is 301.279.8000.

Costumes:

  • Wear flame-retardant, brightly colored costumes, or add reflective tape to costumes. 
  • Face make-up is preferable to wearing a mask, but if a mask is worn, it should not impair the child’s vision.
  • Keep costumes short to avoid tripping and falling.

Homeowners:

  • Make sure your yard is clear of items such as ladders, hoses, dog leashes, and flower pots that could trip young children.
  • Light your home and yard as brightly as possible.
  • Battery-powered jack-o’-lantern candles are preferable to using a candle with a real flame. 
  • If you use candles, place the pumpkins well away from where trick-or-treaters will walk or stand. Make sure paper or cloth yard decorations won’t blow into a burning candle.

Drivers and Party Participants: 

  • Motorists are advised to drive more slowly and with extra caution through neighborhoods. Watch for children in the street and on medians and exit driveways and alleyways carefully.
  • Adults attending a party where alcohol is served should use a designated driver, or take other measures to prevent drinking and driving.  
  • Parents of teens should ensure that alcohol is not available at teen Halloween parties.

Pet Safety:

  • Keep pets inside. Pets, especially cats, can be vulnerable targets for pranksters on Halloween night. Keep them safe indoors to avoid possible trouble.
  • More chocolate is sold on Halloween than at any other time of year. Be sure to keep pets away from candy bowls to avoid accidental ingestion of chocolate, which is harmful to dogs and cats. Also, beware of candy wrappers, which can be hazardous if swallowed.
  • Beware of jack-o’-lanterns lighted with candles. A wagging tail can easily knock them over and cause a fire hazard. Or a curious kitty can get its paws or nose burned by the flame. Use a safety glow stick or flashlight instead.
  • Keep your pet safe in a separate room during trick or treat time. A quick dog or cat may dart out a door that is opening and closing often. Also, the sight of strangely dressed people at the door can be stressful for pets.
  • Only dress up your pet if it is receptive to it. Use treat training to help your pet get used to his costume, but if it doesn’t seem happy, take the costume off. 
  • Masks are never a good idea for pets. Masks can cut off peripheral vision, making a dog or cat nervous about its surroundings. Even the best-behaved dog or cat can get nippy when he can’t see what’s coming from the side. 
  • Make sure your pet’s costume fits properly, and does not constrict breathing or movement. Just as with a collar, make sure you can fit two fingers in between the costume and your pet’s neck. 
  • Inspect the costume and remove any small or dangling pieces that could become a choking hazard.
  • Don’t forget to ID your pet! Shelters are always busy around holidays with pets that have wandered away from home. An ID tag or microchip helps identify your pet so he can be returned home if lost. A Montgomery County pet license tag (which is required by law) is a great source of identification and can be obtained online.

Mike Diegel

Co-Founder/Editor at Source of the Spring
Mike Diegel, a founding member of Source of the Spring, is a Silver Spring advocate who has been appointed by the county executive to several committees and task forces. He currently is a member of the Silver Spring Arts & Entertainment District Advisory Committee. His background is in journalism and he earned a bachelor of arts in communications from McDaniel College. He is self-employed as a communications consultant and is an active volunteer with Appalachian Great Pyrenees Rescue. He has lived for more than 20 years in Northwood/Four Corners with his wife Trish and multiple Great Pyrenees dogs. He is better known around Silver Spring as the Guy with the Big White Dogs.
County releases Halloween safety tips