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Halloween Safety Archived Discussion Room

Fairfax County, Virginia

Halloween Safety

Brendan Murphy, Crime Prevention Officer, answered questions about Halloween safety.

Brendan Murphy : Good afternoon Fairfax County. Thanks for joining us and for those who have already submitted questions. Keeping the community safe this Halloween is our number one priority.

Anonymous User : I live in a dark, wooded townhouse subdivision in Burke Centre, there are no streetlights on our street. What is the best way to provide lighting for kids to see safely? One neighbor plans on putting out tikki torches but I am not sure I want to put out something with real "fire". As an end townhouse that is next to a set of very dark steps leading up to the next street I am afraid kids and/or their parents will trip on the flagstone path or dark wooden steps. Thank you.

Brendan Murphy : I would reconsider "live fire" because it could be a hazard to a costume that may be large or contain external parts not close to the body. As for appropriate lighting; electric lanterns, flashlights and glow sticks all can be utilized for better visibility. Also be extra careful in dark areas for hazards like branches and roots. Those may be difficult to see with a mask on in the dark.

Anonymous User : What are the unofficial, generally accepted hours for trick or treating?

Brendan Murphy : We generally consider dusk until 8:30 - 9:00 PM. While trick or treating please be mindful if someone has their lights off, they may prefer not to participate in Halloween. And also remember it is a school night.

keri : Are there set hours for trick or treating and is Monday the official night for trick or treating (some places do trick or treating on weekend nights if holiday falls on weekday)?

Brendan Murphy : There are no set hours and as stated in a previous question we recommend until 8:30-9:00PM. Typically Halloween trick or treating occurs on the last day of October no matter which day of the week it falls on in Fairfax County. 

Paula : Any tips on how to keep from becoming a target for vandals? We turn our lights out when the candy is gone but this seems to be an invitation to tricksters.

Brendan Murphy : Once you turn your lights out, you may want to remove any items from display that could possibly become a target for theft/vandalism. Items like, pumpkins, inflatable decorations, etc. could be considered targets. All weekend consider being vigilant within your neighborhood... Thanks for watching out for your community.

Anonymous User : Do you see any spike in crimes on Halloween with so many people walking around? Or is it the opposite -- with so many people, there's a drop in typical crime?

Brendan Murphy : Not typically but we always try to remain visible in the community to act as a deterrent to people considering mischevious behavior. A general rule would be to walk in groups of adults and kids to be more easily seen and less of a target for a crime.

Reston : Does anyone still egg houses on Halloween? I did once way back when. Just curious. ;-)

Brendan Murphy : Yes it does occur and not only on Halloween but the night before is sometimes considered mischief night. If there is damage to property please feel free to make a report. If it is an unsightly mess please clean it up and advise your neighbors to check their homes / cars for egg also.

Anonymous User : There's a lot of cut through traffic in my neighborhood and I've always been worried that someone speeding to get to 29 is going to hurt someone, especially on Halloween with kids around. Any advice?

Brendan Murphy : It is sometimes difficult to see out of a mask or costume while trick or treating. Walking in a group with adults who can be aware of the surroundings is always recommended. Also keeping the trick or treaters away from the roadside while walking not running, closer to the homes or front yards. Wearing something reflective to be seen is always a good practice.

While Fairfax County Police do have significant patrols out for Halloween we are always appreciative of motorists being more alert for children in the streets. If a resident recognizes an unsafe situation please feel free to call the police at 703-691-2131.

Anonymous User : Will the police stations be giving out candy?

Brendan Murphy : Generally no we don't have any candy to give out, but we welcome your leftovers on Nov. 1st :)

Anonymous User : what's the appropriate age limit for trick or treaters? i feel like someone in high school should not be knocking on doors asking for candy. i sometimes feel intimidated by large packs of them.

Brendan Murphy : I feel the same way but there is no law that limits the age of trick or treaters. You have no obligation to answer the door nor give them candy if you choose not to.

Victoria : What is a good alternative to giving out candy for Halloween treats? We get approximately 150-200 children each year. Thanks!

Brendan Murphy : I would recommend anything else that is pre-packaged like small bags of pretzels, trail mix, etc. Also you could consider pencils, erasers or stickers. Although they might not too popular. Keep an eye out for the "tricks" that night. LOL

marc : Halloween is also for grownups! And that means more parties. Will police be stepping up patrols this weekend to (hopefully) catch people drinking while driving?

Brendan Murphy : Typically we have sobriety check points and roving DWI patrols and this weekend will be no exception. Don't drink and drive and if you do choose to consume alcohol please have a designated driver or alternate means of transportation. Halloween is much like New Years Eve, officers will be looking for impaired drivers all weekend and through the holiday.

Anonymous User : If my child is going as a cowboy and wants to ride my great dane does the bridle count as a leash for the purpose of the leash laws?

Brendan Murphy : Aside from the leash laws I would say please make sure your pet is controlled / restrained around strangers and groups of kids. A great dane with a "rider" could be unpredictable.

boo radley : I remember growing up and my parents would be very concerned about getting tainted candy from people. Does the police department get any/many reports of this the days after Halloween?

Brendan Murphy : Very rarely does this occur in Fairfax County. That being said, we still recommend that adults inspect the candy/goodies the kids receive. Make sure you dispose of anything that may be opened or damaged.

Newcomer : Do you have any recommendations for the best time for trick-or-treaters? How early should little ones go out (under 6)? How late should older kids stay out trick-or-treating?

Brendan Murphy : We recommend using good judgment and common sense in setting guidelines for your child. We recommend the times as dusk until about 8:30 - 9:00 PM. Nothing specifically governs the times, these are just recommendations.  

Brendan Murphy : Thank you everyone for your questions. We wish you a safe and happy Halloween. If you have any questions or concerns about safety in your community, please feel free to contact your local Crime Prevention Officer at each station. The information can be found here: