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Have a spooky -- and safe -- Halloween night

BRIAN KORTHALS/DAILY GLOBE Sparks fly from the cell bars as a tormented inmate reaches out for a victim Saturday at the Haunted House in Spirit Lake, Iowa. With Halloween approaching, the Worthington Police Department is offering safety tips for all.

WORTHINGTON -- It was a dark and scary night, full of zombies, ghosts, vampires and the occasional ballerina ...

Halloween should be a little dark and scary, because that adds to the fun, but it should also be safe. The Worthington Police Department wants Sunday to be enjoyable for everyone and has offered a few tips to help trick-or-treaters, parents and anyone out on the roads that evening.

Kids and parents

"Have an adult with you," stated Sgt. Bill Bolt. "Make sure that your parents inspect your candy at the end of the evening, and if there is any doubt, get rid of it. Wait until you get home to munch any treats."

Be sure to go to the homes of people you know, and don't approach homes that don't have a light on. Carry a flashlight and be sure to wear reflective clothing.

Since this is southwest Minnesota, dress for the weather. It is no fun to be out trick-or-treating if you are shivering the whole time!

"We encourage trick-or-treaters to get started before dark, especially the younger kids," Bolt said.

Walk on sidewalks and driveways, cross streets at corners or in crosswalks, and walk instead of running.

"It's also very important to be courteous and polite," Bolt said. "Be respectful of people's decorations and property. Say 'thank you.'"

Parents or guardians should take a few minutes to plan a route and make sure that everyone knows what that route is. And just like in swimming and hiking, trick-or-treating is a great time to use the buddy system.


"If you are welcoming trick-or-treaters, turn on an outside light and keep a path as well lit as possible," Bolt recommended. "Remove any possible obstructions from the walkway."

As much fun as it is for homeowners to see all the little ghosts and goblins, other occupants of the house may not find it so amusing. Shrieks of laughter and mock fear, constant doorbell ringing or knocking and company that comes and goes is alarming. Halloween can be a very confusing time for pets, so it may be best to keep Fido and Fluffy in a back room or kennel.

As tempting as it is to make the adorable homemade treats Rachael Ray whips up, most parents aren't going to allow their child to eat them once they get home. Chances are, even if they know the chef well, they may not remember which house it came from. Stick to store-bought goodies for trick-or-treats and keep the special treats for personal parties.

Planning to jump out of the bushes dressed as a zombie carrying a chainsaw?

"Remember to adjust scary behavior to the age of the trick-or-treater," Bolt advised. "What an 11-year-old finds delightfully scary might just traumatize a 3-year-old."

Authorities request that any suspicious behavior or activities be reported, whether that behavior be people running through backyards, taking candy from children or more serious actions.

If a homeowners chooses not to participate in trick-or-treating, leaving the front light off is best.

"And when you are done participating, turn out your light," Bolt said.


"Kids are kids, and they aren't always going to pay attention, no matter what we tell them," Bolt stated. "If you are driving on Halloween, please slow down and keep an eye out."

The costumes worn by trick-or-treaters can limit a child's visibility and hearing, Bolt said, so drivers should always assume that the kids don't see or hear them.

"And they are all sugared up like squirrels, so they might run out in front of you like one," he said.

Vehicles in front of you may make sudden stops as they pick up and drop off hordes of monsters and goblins, so Bolt and the department asks that drivers be patient.

"We want everyone to have a good time and be safe," Bolt said. "We can accomplish that by looking out for each other and by being patient and respectful."