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McGruff the Crime Dog shares Halloween safety tips

ARLINGTON, Va. -- Many neighborhoods will see ghosts, ghouls, and goblins floating through the streets tonight as children go trick-or-treating for Halloween.

The National Crime Prevention Council, home of McGruff the Crime Dog, suggests that parents follow these few tips to assure that their children enjoy a safe and fun-filled evening.

Remember the following tips:

* Clear your yard and sidewalk of any obstacles or decorations that may be hard to see in the dark, lest someone go bump in the night.

* Keep your house well-lighted on both the inside and outside.

* Ask your Neighborhood Watch or local citizens' group to patrol your community.

* Report any suspicious or criminal activities to your police department or sheriff's office.

Follow these tips to make sure even the scariest costumes are safe:

* Try makeup instead of masks; it does not obstruct vision the way masks can.

* Keep costumes short to ensure that the only trip taken is the one around the neighborhood.

* Look for brightly colored costumes, attach reflector strips to costumes and bags, and remind trick-or-treaters to carry glow sticks and flashlights.

Make sure your trick-or-treater's night in the neighborhood will be safe and fun.

* Older kids should trick-or-treat in groups. Kids walking around alone are not as safe as those walking in groups.

* A parent or trusted neighbor should accompany younger kids.

* Review the route for trick-or-treating beforehand and set a time for when kids should be home. Also, have a plan if your child separates accidentally from his or her friends or from you.

Remember that the treats still need scrutiny before anyone eats them.

* Remind your children not to eat any treats until they have come home. To help ensure this, feed them a meal or a substantial snack before they go out.

* Check all treats at home in a well-lighted place. Be especially wary of anything that is not factory-wrapped or that is no longer sealed.