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October 24, 2012

LITTLE ROCK - Late October can be a fun time of year for children and adults alike, with traditional Halloween activities like costume parties, haunted houses, hayrides and trick-or-treating. It's a great time of year for retailers, too. The National Retail Federation estimates that 170 million Americans will spend about $8 billion this year on costumes, candy and other items associated with Halloween.

Attorney General Dustin McDaniel wants Arkansas consumers to enjoy a safe Halloween, whether they are shopping for Halloween products or stopping by a neighbor's home to collect treats. Therefore, McDaniel issued this Consumer Alert today to provide information about how to avoid unexpected and unnecessary Halloween scares.

"Consumers invest time and money into Halloween, hoping that they and their children have a fun and memorable experience," McDaniel said. "Fortunately, there are ways consumers can keep the Halloween scares in haunted houses and in movies, so that they can have an enjoyable time with their friends and families."

The Better Business Bureau has encouraged consumers nationwide to exercise caution when shopping at seasonal, specialty stores that close right after Halloween. Consumers are urged to ask around about the temporary stores and their track records from year-to-year. It's also a good idea to read a store's refund and return policy. In addition, consumers who rent Halloween costumes should read the rental agreement to know their responsibilities if the costume were damaged, stained or lost.

McDaniel, along with the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, asked consumers to follow these Halloween safety tips, as well:

• Make sure children do not eat any treats collected while trick-or-treating without the treat first being carefully examined by an adult for evidence of tampering.
• Buy flame-resistant costumes, masks and wigs; and avoid baggy, or flimsy, costumes that would increase the risk of contact with candles or other ignition sources.
• Children should carry flashlights, in order to be easily seen by motorists. Parents should also consider adding reflective tape to costumes, so that the tape will glow in the beam of a vehicle's headlights.
• To avoid tripping and falling, choose costumes that fit well and don't drag the ground.
• Use cosmetics instead of masks so that a child's vision is not obstructed. In case masks are used, make sure they fit securely, have adequate ventilation and provide unobstructed views.
• Know that wearing decorative contact lenses can be risky. The Food and Drug Administration recommends consumers have prescriptions, even for decorative lenses, and asks consumers not to buy from novelty stores or Halloween stores.
• When decorating, keep candles and jack-o'-lanterns away from landings and doorsteps where costumes could brush against them and catch fire.
• Make sure all obstacles are removed from walkways, steps and porches so that trick-or-treaters don't stumble.
For more information about consumer issues, visit the Attorney General's Consumer Protection Division website at or call the Consumer Protection Hotline at (800) 482-8982.