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Tips for having a safe Halloween

Saturday - 10/22/2011, 11:08am  ET

AP: f07920fe-7eb0-4e62-93a0-135cfeaf4a73
Lisa Woodruff holds a pair of chop sticks alongside her 4-year-old pugs Mochi, foreground, and Olive dressed as sushi at their home in Huntington Beach, Calif. (AP Photo/Richard Vogel, FILE)

Michelle Basch, wtop.com

WASHINGTON - Halloween is almost here, and if you're out and about this weekend buying costumes and decorations there are some things you should keep in mind.

Picture a school classroom transformed into a haunted house. A short time before the attraction is set to open, a small fire starts inside. It quickly spreads into a raging inferno.

One man who tries to put out the flames is killed. It happened in Prince William County 38 years ago when a black light was placed too close to paper decorations.

Now, firefighters are reminding you to avoid flammable decorations like paper, cotton and straw.

The Prince George's County Fire Department says kids are four and half times more likely to hit by a car on Halloween than on any other night of the year.

Firefighters say kids should wear reflective tape and carry flashlights while trick or treating.

If you're carving a pumpkin into a jack-o-lantern this year, consider lighting it with a flashlight instead of a candle.

Final tip: instead of handing out candy, the Charles County Sheriff's Office suggests alternatives like decorated pencils, stickers or single-serving boxes of cereal.

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(Copyright 2011 by WTOP. All Rights Reserved.)