Safety key on Halloween

Halloween can bring dangers much more frightening than ghosts, ghouls and goblins.

Dark streets, dangerous drivers, restrictive costumes, unattended candles and too much or tainted candy can cause real nightmares, officials said.

“We want every family to enjoy Halloween, but want to encourage safety as a No. 1 priority,” state Fire Marshal Michael Matlick said.

Halloween doesn’t arrive until Wednesday, but police around Snohomish County plan extra patrols beginning this weekend to look for dangerous or drunken drivers.

“The one thing we really stress for people: Please remember there will be little kids out wearing costumes, and some of the costumes will be dark,” Washington State Patrol trooper Kirk Rudeen said.

Slow down and keep an eye out for pedestrians on the roads all weekend and on Halloween night, he said.

Residential streets’ speed limit is 25 mph. When lots of children are around, especially those wearing dark costumes who may not look before crossing streets, it’s important to use extra caution, Rudeen said.

“There’s no excuse to be going fast, especially on a night like this,” he said. “We don’t want to have a tragedy happen.”

Common sense can make Halloween safer, experts said.

It’s a good idea to carry flashlights while trick-or-treating and to wear costumes that are easy to see, even adding reflective tape to capes and brooms. Costumes should be flame-resistant and fit properly, and masks shouldn’t make it hard to see or hear. Any candy that is collected should be inspected by an adult for signs of tampering.

Decorations shouldn’t be hazardous. Jack-o’-lanterns with candles left unattended on porches can pose a fire risk.

“Unattended candles are a big fire-safety concern for us,” Snohomish County Fire District 1 spokeswoman Leslie Hynes said. “There are glow sticks and battery-powered candles that flicker that are alternatives.”

And while it is fun for people to wear costumes on the last day of October, pets may prefer to just be left alone, according to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. Never feed pets candy. Keeping cats and dogs inside on Halloween also is a good way to make sure animals don’t get spooked or hurt, officials said.

Reporter Jackson Holtz: 425-339-3437 or

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