The Halloween tradition of "trick or treat" for candy or other sweets is essentially an event for costume-clad youngsters of tender ages. But the house-to-house neighborhood trek has lost some of its innocence over the years and a number of precautions should be observed.

Officials of the National PTA have a number of sensible suggestions to make the evening more pleasant and problem-free for everyone:- Have an adult accompany children on their treat-gathering route. Avoid neighborhoods or homes of strangers. Stop only at places that are well-lighted.

- Older youngsters without adult chaperones should travel in groups, have a specific route to follow and a time to be back home.

- Tell children not to sample anything until they return home. Inspect all treats for possible tampering.

- Warn children against entering homes or apartments. Similarly, adults should not encourage children they don't know to enter their homes.

- Youngsters should walk, not run, from house to house; should stay on sidewalks and cross at intersections and crosswalks. Motorists should be aware that young goblins will be out Oct. 31 and drive with extra care, especially in residential neighborhoods.

- Costumes should be flame resistant, made of bright, highly visible colors and should be short enough so that youngsters will not trip over them. Use makeup instead of masks that may restrict breathing or obstruct vision. Carry flashlights instead of candles.

- Swords, knives and similar costume accessories should be of soft, flexible materials.

- Affix name, address and phone number to the inside of costumes in case young children get lost. Give children coins and instructions to call if there is a problem.

- Hold house parties or block parties as alternatives to house-to-house trick or treating.

Common-sense precautions like these will make Halloween a safer and more enjoyable experience not only for children but also for adults.