Halloween is viewed by children to be a time filled with fun and festivity, not as a risk to their health and safety. However, top priority should be given by parents and communities to make this holiday a safe and happy one, according to the National PTA.

Halloween will mark the beginning of the National PTA's fifth annual Child Safety and Protection Month. Each November the 6.8 million-member association focuses its efforts on keeping children and youth safe from harm, beginning on Halloween.At this time of the year the National PTA offers parents ideas to help make trick-or-treating a safe and enjoyable experience for their children. One idea is to ask local PTAs to host all-school Halloween parties. Parents might have a house party for children, teens and their families or stage a Halloween block party that includes a hayride or a haunted house.

Safety on the street

For those whose children go out trick-or-treating, the PTA suggests the following safety rules:

- Have an adult accompany children on their treat-gathering route. Avoid unfamiliar neighborhoods or homes of strangers. Stop only at houses or apartments that are well lit.

- Older kids without adult chaperones should always travel in groups, never alone. Have them plan a route to follow and designate a time they'll return home.

- Tell children to accept only manufactured-wrapped treats and not to sample anything until they return home. Inspect their treats for possible tampering.

- Tell children to politely decline any invitations to enter a home or apartment. Similarly, don't encourage children you don't know to enter your home.

- Instruct children to walk, not run, from house to house. They should walk on sidewalks, not in the streets, and cross at intersections or crosswalks. Teach them not to dart out between parked cars.


- Purchase only costumes, wigs and beards labeled "flame resistant."

- Swords, knives and similar costume accessories should be made of soft flexible material. Avoid toy weapons that could be mistaken for the real thing.

- Make sure that costumes are short enough so that youngsters don't trip. Bright colors and costumes with reflector tape are more visible. Have them wear safe and sturdy shoes.

- Natural masks of makeup are preferable to plastic or rubber ones that may restrict breathing or obstruct peripheral vision.

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

- Don't allow children to carry candles. Carry a flashlight instead.

For more information about Child Safety and Protection Month, contact your local PTA.