Whether ghosts or goblins, princesses or police officers, pretty much every school-aged kid has big plans for Halloween.

Those fancy costumes and long treks around the neighbourhood to bag as much candy as possible can pose some dangers, though.

Fortunately, most of them can easily be avoided.

It starts with planning ahead and choosing the right costume, according to Sgt. Jereme Leslie, Public Information Officer with the Saanich Police.

"It’s really important to help your kids pick a costume that’s safe. Wear costumes that are properly fitted to reduce the chance of tripping," said Leslie.

In other words, that giant, three-headed, four-legged monster costume might not be the best idea.

Several agencies, from the RCMP to BC Children’s Hospital, have compiled safety tips for Halloween.

We’ve come up with the top five which almost every list seems to touch on. We’re calling it our STAY Halloween safe list.

  • Stay bright – make sure there is reflective tape on the costume or add an arm band so the kids are visible in the dark, even better, accessorize with a flashlight or glow stick
  • Stay the course – keep kids on the sidewalks and use crosswalks, don’t let them run across the road, no matter how fantastic the skeleton hanging from the house across the street looks
  • Stay together – parents don’t let your kids head out alone, make sure there is an adult with them, and for older kids, try to ensure they at least stick together with their friends and don’t go solo, not even if they are dressed as Han Solo
  • Stay aware – avoid costumes with masks which block vision, instead choose costumes with large eye holes, or even better, use makeup instead
  • Stay clear – don’t go to houses with the lights off, they are asking you not to drop by, at the other end of the spectrum watch out and stay clear of tripping hazards and other dangers at houses where their enthusiasm for scary decorations may have spilled over onto walkways

While parents will be focused on Halloween night, from a police point of view, it is the weekend before Halloween which can be most challenging.

People of all ages seem to let loose with particular abandon at Halloween parties.

“Our calls for service the weekend before Halloween historically do go up. Normally, in Saanich, we see around an average of 100 calls per night throughout the Halloween weekend,” said Leslie.

Police departments plan ahead (just like parents) and put extra staff on for the weekend to deal with the increase.

Leslie said they are all about encouraging fun, in a reasonable way.

“We’re just making sure everyone is able to have a safe and enjoyable Halloween.”