Halloween, trick-or-treating safety tips

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1. Check your child's costume. Make sure it fits properly and there is nothing that could cause him or her trip. Take a good look at masks/eye holes. Can your child see? Enlarge those eye holes if you need to, even if it means taking scissors or a knife to the mask.

"A little bit of prevention can stop a whole lot of heartache," said Phoenix police Sgt. Tommy Thompson.

If your child is carrying a prop like a scythe or pitchfork, make sure the tips are soft and flexible enough that they won't cause an injury if somebody falls on it.

2. Make sure your kids are properly supervised. An adult needs to be with them at all times. That adult needs to be focused on the trick-or-treaters and what's happening around them, not on trick-or-treating itself.

"Don't assume that a brother or sister that's a little bit older will keep an eye on them," Thompson said.

If you have several trick-or-treaters in your group, you should have more than one adult. Hold the hands of younger children when crossing streets. Be sure to do a periodic head count.

If children are going out on their own, make sure they have a charged cell phone and have them check in with you at appointed times.

3. Some people recommend checking the Internet for registered sex offenders in the area in which you plan to take your kids trick-or-treating.

Plan your route ahead of time and only visit places/homes you know. Stick to populated areas and avoid cutting through alleys and empty lots or fields.

3. Bring a flashlight or glow stick. Every person in your group should have some kind of light source. Not only will it help you see, it will help make you more visible to drivers. Reflective taps on costumes and clothes can also help make you visible to drivers.

4. Drivers, turn on your headlights and slow down! Kids will likely be darting into the streets, especially in residential areas. Keep your eyes peeled.

"Just look and scan," Thompson said. "This is a prime time to not be caught up with text messages, with cell phones, with changing the CD. This is where you really have to pay attention and do your best driving."

5. Remind your kids about "Stranger Danger." Make it clear that they should not get into a strangers car or go inside a stranger's house.

6. Check your kids' candy before they eat it. To that end, make sure the kids eat a good meal before heading out so they won't be tempted to eat their candy before you can have a look.

Once you're home for the night, dump out the candy loot, spread it on the table or floor and take a close look.

"If it looks a little bit strange, go ahead and pitch it," Thompson said.

To help you out with that, you can have the candy at one of three NextCare Urgent Care clinics between 5 p.m. Monday and 2 p.m. Tuesday.

Those locations are:

1701 E. Thomas Road, Phoenix;

600 S. Dobson Road, Chandler;

9494 W. Northern Avenue, Glendale.

If you end up with too much Halloween candy (Yes, there is such a thing.), you can trade it in for cash as part of the 2011 Halloween Candy Buy Back Program. Local dentist and orthodontist officers are taking part. They'll pay $1 to $2 per pounds up to five pounds. That candy will be sent to soldiers serving overseas. Click here for lists of participating locations throughout Arizona.