Trick or treating is one of the highlights of the fall season for kids.
As parents know, however, Halloween costumes and darkly spooky nights can create some ghoulish nightmares for little ones out cobbling around in clunky heels and sight-impairing masks in search of sweet treats.
But with a little parental oversight, these potential pitfalls can be avoided.
These 8 trick or treating safety tips can help make sure a devilishly good night is had by all. Safely.
Few things are more disappointing to the preschool set than having to stop all the fun to deal with life's necessities. But if mom doesn't anticipate this, the result could be soiled trick or treat costumes.
Over-ambitious routes often result in little one's tears and a ride on dad's shoulders.
Hold preschoolers' hands or confine them somehow while trick or treating (parental herding on all sides works well.)
You could offer to pull them in a wagon. That way you don't have to insist on holding their hands.
If your little princess is going as Cinderella, decorate the wagon as her coach. If Billy wants to be a firefighter, equip the `fire wagon' with a bell.
Nothing spoils the night faster than a chilly child whining to go home to thaw out.
Make a no-eating Halloween treats rule until you get back home. First, it will make trick-or-treat goblins more eager to fly home when you want them to. Secondly, you can make sure the Halloween treats are appropriate for your little goblin.
Obviously, you'll only be taking your tots to homes of friends, so you probably don't have to worry about some monster tainting the goods.
However, the kindly octogenarian next door may forget that 2-year-olds can choke on gum or Sweet Tarts.
So sit down with your preschooler and spill out the loot. Help her divide it into stacks by size.
Then have stickers or safe treats to trade her for any candies that look worrisome.
As kids get older, they're going to want some distance from the parents. But you still need to go along and keep them in sight. If they start the disappearing act, take them home.
Then inspect the candy before they're allowed to devour. There should be no problems but at least you can pull out the stuff that's liable to muck up their braces.
Around the age of 11 or 12, your child should be able to go around the neighborhood with friends.
But set strict guidelines regarding how far, how long, and who with.
Give them a set time to be home - and insist they answer their cell phones. (Or at least text to let you know they're okay.) Remind them not to go inside home of people you don't know well. Even older teens need to be reminded occasionally.
Now, have a safe and happy Halloween!