Evanston police have issued a set of Halloween safety tips to help reduce crime and accidents on the Saturday, Oct. 31 holiday.

The city has set trick-or-treating hours from 4 to 7:30 p.m., and the police offer several suggestions about trick-or-treaters’ costumes to help reduce accidents.

(Illustration courtesy Evanston Police Department.)

  • Choose costumes that are bright and contain reflective material.
  • Add a reflective stripe if necessary to make your child more visible to drivers.
  • Carry a glow stick or glow necklace to be more visible.
  • Avoid costumes that cover a child’s head and may prevent them from seeing a vehicle or other hazard.
  • Remember toy guns look real. Choose costumes that do not contain guns or weapons.

The police also suggest that parents should:

  • Accompany young children when they go trick-or-treating.
  • Carry a flashlight, cell phone and first aid kit.
  • Teach children how to dial 9-1-1 if they encounter an emergency.
  • Plan a route with your children and agree on a time to “check-in” with family.
  • Only let children trick-or-treat in neighborhoods parents are familiar with and only to houses with front porch lights on.
  • Caution children to never enter a person’s home while trick-or-treating.
  • See that trick-or-treaters cross streets at intersections only.
  • Have trick-or-treaters eat dinner before going out, or take a snack from home. Do not allow your children to eat any candy unless, checked by an adult first. Any unwrapped items should be discarded.
  • Before you allow your child to knock on any door, become better informed. Check the Illinois Sex Offender Registry website. Learn who lives in the houses you plan to visit. Be cautious rather than sorry!
  • Notify your neighborhood watch groups of the trick-or-treating” times, and have them walk the neighborhoods to look out for children.
  • Have neighborhood watch groups report any suspicious activity to the Evanston Police Department at (847) 866-5000.
  • Remind children to have respect for their neighborhood. Although some activities may seem like fun — smashing pumpkins, “egging,” spray painting and spraying property with shaving cream are all illegal activities that damage a person’s property. Police should be notified of any such activity.

Halloween also poses special challenges for people who will be driving while trick-or-treaters are out. The police suggest:

  • Drive slowly (with lights on) and defensively all evening.
  • No one should drive a vehicle while wearing a Halloween mask of any type.
  • Be cautious, because young trick-or-treaters may dart out in front of you at anytime.
  • Obey all traffic signals, both as a driver and a pedestrian.
  • Driving under the influence laws will be strictly enforced, so make sure you have a designated driver.
  • Persons under the age of 21 should not drink any alcoholic beverage.

And Halloween can be a traumatic or even dangerous time for pets. So the police suggest:

  • Don’t leave your pet(s) out in the yard.
  • Many strangers visiting in strange costumes can be scary for some pets.
  • Make sure your cat or dog doesn’t dart outside when you open the door.
  • Don’t dress your pet in a Halloween costumes, as it causes great stress for the animal.
  • Trick-or-treat candies of any type are not for pets. Chocolate is poisonous to many animals.
  • Consult your veterinarian for further advice or visit the ASPCA’s

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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