Los Angeles police offer safety tips for a spooktacular Halloween

Thousands of youths will go door to door trick or treating in the Southland on Halloween Tuesday, with the Los Angeles Police Department advising they do so during daylight hours for safety reasons.

On average, children are more than twice as likely to be hit by a car and killed on Halloween than on any other day of the year, according to Safe Kids Worldwide, a nonprofit organization working to help families and communities keep children safe from injuries.

The organization advises trick-or-treaters to cross streets at corners; look left, right and left again while crossing and keep looking while crossing; put electronic devices down, keep heads up and walk, don't run, while crossing the street; walking on sidewalks or paths; and where there are no sidewalks, walk facing traffic as far to the left as possible.

The LAPD advises trick-or-treaters to never take shortcuts through backyards or alleys.

Other LAPD Halloween safety tips includes wearing costumes made of light-colored, fireproof material; props such as toy guns or swords should be made of pliable material; realistic replica firearms should never be used; masks should not be worn if they impair vision; and wigs should be fireproof and not restrict vision.

The department is also advising to never eat any treats until they have been examined and all fruit should be cut and and closely examined before eating.

The annual Halloween survey by the National Retail Federation and Prosper Insights & Analytics found that the most popular costume for children is an action or superhero, with a "Batman'' character or princess tied for second.

They are followed by an animal, such as a dog, cat or monkey; Spider-Man; a "Star Wars'' character; and a witch.

The same survey found a witch tops the choices for adult costumes, followed by a "Batman'' character; an animal; pirate; a Marvel superhero; vampire; and a zombie.

The survey of 7,013 consumers conducted Sept. 5-13 found the Americans plan to spend a record $9.1 billion on Halloween, an 8.3 percent increase over the previous record of $8.4 billion set last year.

Consumers are expected to spend an average of $86.13, up from last year's average of $82.93, with 179 million Americans expected to participate in Halloween activities, up from 171 million in 2016.

The survey has a margin of error of plus or minus 1.2 percentage points.

The roots of Halloween began thousands of years ago with the Celtic people who inhabited the area that is now England, Ireland and Scotland who celebrated their new year on Nov. 1. The Celtic religious order known as the Druids held a great festival each year on the evening before their new year. This festival was celebrated in honor of the god, Samhain, the Druid god of death and was known as All Hallowtide.

Christian missionaries in the sixth century sought to reform the pagan beliefs of the Celtic people. They strategically centered all their holy days around the native holidays, and named Nov. 1 the Feast of All Saints. This day honored all Christian saints, known and unknown, and was meant to eventually replace the festival of Samhain. The day was similarly called All Hallows, in which the word "hallow" means sanctified, or holy.

The custom of celebrating Halloween was brought to the U.S. in the mid- 19th century by Irish immigrants, with today's celebration following ancient customs involving a combination of Druid practices and other religious beliefs.

While Halloween for most American children is an opportunity to get candy, it can also be a day to help others. Trick-or-Treat for UNICEF began in 1950 to help children still affected by World War II.

Funds raised with children going door to door on Halloween with UNICEF collection boxes calling out "Trick-or-Treat for UNICEF'' would later help what is now known as the United Nations Children's Fund save and improve children's lives around the world through immunization, education, health care, nutrition, safe water and sanitation and more.

Funds raised this year through Trick-or-Treat for UNICEF will support UNICEF's emergency relief work for children affected by recent disasters.

Information about participating in Trick-or-Treat for UNICEF is available online at unicefusa.org.

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