Column: Have a fun and safe Halloween

The streets will soon be filled with goblins, ghouls, ghosts and all manner of other scary and delightful characters as young people of all ages celebrate Halloween.

Halloween is a fun and exciting way for children to dress up, use their imaginations and receive some sweet treats in return.

It all starts with being safe. Here are a few tips for parents to help ensure everyone has a great time.

Before kids head out, check that their costumes are the right size so that they won’t trip or fall and — if they have a mask — that the eye holes are large enough for them to see effectively.

Small children should never go trick-or-treating by themselves. If older children head out without an adult, make sure they stick together as a group and only go to familiar neighborhoods. Tell children of all ages to stay in well-lit areas; use sidewalks when possible; look both ways before crossing the street; and never enter a stranger’s home or car.

It is vital that children can see and be seen while trick-or-treating. Simply having them wear something reflective or bright and ensuring someone in the group has a flashlight can help ensure everyone returns home safe.

I also encourage southwest Michigan parents to tell their kids not to eat any of their candy until it has been thoroughly inspected by an adult.

Consider serving kids a filling meal or giving them a small snack before heading out so they won’t be tempted to eat any treats before they are checked out.

For these tips and more, parents can visit the Consumer Product Safety Commission’s Halloween Safety page online, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s Halloween Food Safety Tips for Parents, or safekids.org/tip/halloween-safety-tips.

Finally, I urge drivers to slow down and be especially alert in residential neighborhoods. Children are excited on Halloween and may move in sudden and unpredictable ways.

Happy Halloween!

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