North Carolina Department of Justice

North Carolina Department of Justice

North Carolina Department of Justice
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Happy Haunting: tips for a safe and fright-free Halloween


By Attorney General Roy Cooper

Halloween can be a fun and creative time of year for families but most importantly we want it to be a safe time. For a Halloween that is all treats and no tricks, read these safety tips and go over them with your little superheroes and princesses before the trick-or-treating begins.
Tips for trick-or-treaters
  • Check the sex offender registry at when planning your child’s trick-or-treat route. You can view maps that pinpoint registered offenders’ addresses in your neighborhood, and sign up to get email alerts when an offender moves nearby.
  • A parent or other responsible adult should always accompany young children on their neighborhood rounds. 
  • For older trick-or-treaters, establish a curfew. Plan and review the route they’ll take and be clear about your expectations for their behavior.
  • Children should only trick-or-treat in neighborhoods they know and should only knock on doors at well-lit houses. 
  • All children should know their home number and how to call 9-1-1 in case of emergency.
  • Trick-or-treaters should always carry a flashlight with fresh batteries.    
  • Remind children to walk, not run, from house to house and to stick to sidewalks rather than cut across yards. The candy will still be there even if they don’t take a short cut. If your neighborhood lacks sidewalks, make sure trick-or-treaters know to walk on the left side of the road facing traffic.
Tips on treats
  • Check all treats before your children eat anything. If you don’t plan to join the trick-or-treaters on their rounds, make it clear that all candy must be brought home for parents to inspect it before they eat even one piece. 
  • To keep your kids from munching on candy, send a snack with them. A good meal prior to trick-or treating will also discourage them from filling up on Halloween treats.
  • Tell children not to consume unwrapped food or open drinks they may be offered.
  • When inspecting your kid’s Halloween haul, dispose of any candy that is unwrapped or partially wrapped. Discard any candy that has an unusual odor, color or texture. When in doubt, throw it out.
Tips for homeowners
  • Eliminate tripping hazards on your porch and in your yard before neighborhood children come knocking. 
  • Check around your property for flowerpots, tree limbs, or garden hoses that could pose a risk.
  • Turn your porch light on to let trick-or-treaters know they are welcome.
  • Prepare household pets for an evening of strange-looking creatures at the door. 
  • Place jack-o-lanterns with lit candles in a safe place out of the reach of kids and away from anything flammable.
  • If you decide to carve a pumpkin, place it on a stable, flat surface. Children may draw the jack-o-lantern’s face, but leave the carving to an adult.
Tips on costumes
  • Select costumes that are brightly colored and will reflect light, or add reflective tape.
  • Make sure that costumes and shoes fit well to prevent trips and slips.
  • When shopping for costumes, look for labels that say flame resistant or fire-retardant.
  • Consider non-toxic, hypoallergenic makeup or a hat instead of a mask that can block eyesight. If a mask is a must, choose one with large eye, nose and mouth openings.
  • Secure hats and scarves to keep them from obscuring the child’s vision.
  • Choose costume props that cannot cause injury. If the costume calls for a sword or broomstick, pick one made from cardboard or other flexible materials.
  • Tape or pin children’s name, address and phone number to their costume.
Attorney General Roy Cooper and his staff want all North Carolinians to have a safe and happy Halloween. We are here to be of service when you need us, but through columns like these we hope to help consumers avoid problems from the start.