By AMY MILLER
When I was growing up, my mom and my best friend Laura's mom, Joanie, always joined forces on trick or treat night to make sure Laura, her little brother Johnny, and I were safe when we went trick or treating.
They would bundle us up under our costumes, make us carry Halloween-themed flashlights and bright colored candy bags, cross only at the corners, and instruct us to stay together no matter what. Our moms would even follow behind as we dressed as mummies, Raggedy Ann and Andy dolls, clowns, ninjas, mice, witches and more scurried along the streets of Summit Hill, singing our Halloween songs at neighbors' homes in the hopes of getting a special treat.
We never thought much of it as kids, but as we grew up and started giving out candy to the ghouls and goblins that came to our doors, instead of trick or treating, we realized how our moms kept us safe during the years. They made sure we knew the rules and followed them and I must say, those rules are just as important today as they were when I was skipping my way around town in search of Halloween treats.
The following are some safety tips for keeping this generation's witches, vampires, mummies, Harry Potters, princesses and fairies safe this Halloween as they venture out, like most of us did when we were kids, in the hopes of getting some treats from area neighbors.
Safety tips for kids
• Never go to a stranger's house unless your parents are with you. Even though this is the time to get candy, you still have to be careful.
• Look both ways before crossing the street. It's dark out and even though it is trick or treat night, cars are still dangerous to pedestrians if they can't clearly see you. Always cross at the crosswalks and do not dart out from between cars into the street.
• Carry a flashlight or wear something reflective on your costume. This will help cars see you.
• Have your parents check your candy before you eat it. If anything seems suspicious or a piece of candy is unwrapped, throw it away. You never know what could be in it.
• Only go to houses that have a porch light on. Houses that have porch lights on mean that they are participating in trick or treat night.
• Don't get in a car with a stranger, no matter what.
• Stay together in a group because you are safer that way.
• For those who have cell phones, make sure to have your house telephone number programmed into it in case you need help.
Tips for parents
• Go trick or treating with your kids to ensure they will be safe. There is no better way to make sure your child is safe during the two hours they are going trick or treating.
• Dress kids in bright costumes that are easily seen by motorists. If your child wants to be a witch or something that is dark in nature, make sure they carry a flashlight or have something reflective on them.
• Know the route your child will be taking if you aren't going with them. This will help in case something happens.
• Explain to your child that Halloween means that some people may try to scare them. Prepare them by talking with them and telling them that if they see something they do not like to stay away from it.
• Stress the importance of being good. Trick or treating is a time to get treats, not play tricks on others. It is not appropriate to throw eggs, toilet paper houses, or do anything that vandalizes a property.
• Keep pets safe by putting them in a room where they won't get overwhelmed by all the children. Also, do not give them any of the candy the kids receive.
More safety tips can be found at various websites, including http://www.cdc.gov/family/halloween; http://www.halloween-safety.com; http://www.aap.org/advocacy/releases/octhalloween.cfm; and http://www.keepkidshealthy.com/welcome/autumn/halloween_safety.html