The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

October 29, 2013

Safety first for Halloween | Beware of trick-or-treaters in neighborhoods

Submitted by Readers

JOHNSTOWN — Monsters and maidens, pirates and princesses, aliens and angels soon will descend upon the area with their sweet tooths bared.

These costumed visitors – attired in the trendiest, weirdest or cutest getups – will be knocking on neighborhood doors seeking treats of every type.

Our Janice Rainey has compiled an extensive list of communities and community centers that will hold trick-or-treat and the times of those events. Seemingly every municipality has set aside a couple of hours for trick-or-treating. That information has been published twice in The Tribune-Democrat, and it also is available on our website.

Many firefighters, civic groups and other volunteers will be patrolling area streets and neighborhoods to help keep children safe.

And although there have been no scares recently of pins, nails, razor blades or other hazards hidden in candy bars or fruit by sick individuals, parents must never become complacent when it comes to their children’s safety. We urge them to accompany their children on their candy-collecting rounds.

We also want to caution motorists to be more alert to trick-or-treaters when driving through residential areas.

In addition, the American Academy of Pediatrics offers the following tips:

-- Dress your child in a costume that is bright and reflective, and short enough to prevent tripping.

-- Consider nontoxic makeup and decorative hats instead of masks, which can limit or block vision.

-- Purchase only costumes and accessories that are flame retardant.

-- If a sword, cane or stick is part of your child’s costume, make sure it is not sharp or too long to prevent injury if your child stumbles or falls.

-- Give your child a flashlight with fresh batteries.

-- If your children are old enough, consider having them carry cellphones in case of an accident or they get


-- Homeowners should keep their porches and yards free of tripping hazards, such as garden hoses, toys, bicycles or lawn decorations.

-- Homeowners also should restrain pets so they don’t jump on or bite trick-or-treaters.

-- Only visit homes that have a porch light on.

-- Never enter a home or vehicle for a treat.

-- Stay in a group and communicate where the group is going next.

-- Remain on well-lit streets and always cross at intersections and never from between parked vehicles.

Parents also may want to consider offering nonfood treats such as coloring books, pens or colored pencils.

And they should insist that they check their child’s haul and throw away any spoiled, unwrapped or suspicious items.

And above all, have a frightfully safe and happy Halloween.