Trick-or-treating is a time-honored tradition that thousands of young children look forward to every year, but it leaves many parents worried. Forget the calorie-laden loot bag or potential for cavities from all the candy. Most parents are concerned about their children's safety as they're wandering around the neighborhood. So before your kids head out on their Halloween adventure, take some time to review these important tips from Long Island experts.
1. Never go trick-or-treating alone. "If your child/children want to go with a group of friends, have one or two trusted adults follow behind to keep an eye on things," said Lisa Dimitri, school social worker for Gadiners Avenue and Northside schools in Levittown
2. Discuss staying in populated, well-lit areas. "Don't take shortcuts or routes that are dark and unfamiliar," suggested Dimitri. Encourage your kids to stay within just a few blocks of your house.
3. Walk on sidewalks and look both ways before crossing the street.
4. "Younger children should always stay within sight of a trusted adult," said Jessica Peterson, guidance counselor at Edna Louise Spear Elementary School in Port Jefferson. "Older children should travel in groups of three or more and carry a cellphone. Establish several check-in times with your kids, so they know where you are."
5. "Don't enter the home of a stranger or get into someone's car," said Dimitri. "Ever."
6. If you're trick-or-treating in the dark, make sure your children have some type of reflective clothing and/or flashlight, said Dimitri. Many mobile devices have a free flashlight app you can download.
7. Respect other people and their property. "Parents should not be buying shaving cream and eggs for their children," said Peterson. "Silly String is safer!"
8. When your kids arrive home, take a look in their candy bag and review the goodies before they dig in. This is especially important for children with allergies.
There are also a number of apps that make Halloween a little less frightening for parents. Here are a few to download before your kids go out trick-or-treating:
Trick or Tracker
Where's my kid? No worries, the Trick or Tracker by Iconosys allows your to track your child using GPS, and it can be programmed to send automatic texts to keep you updated throughout the night. The "Where's my parent" button lets older children locate their parents if they're trick-or-treating nearby with younger siblings. Only the child's phone needs to be an Android; for the parent, any Google maps-loaded phone (iPhone, BlackBerry or Windows Phone 7) will work. Other features include a flashlight that illuminates the phone screen to allow your kids to travel more safely in the dark. The app costs $4.99 for a lifetime license, but on Halloween, it will be free from 8 a.m. EST until 11:59 p.m. EST. Visit trickortracker.com to download.
This free app helps you know where your children are without having to nag them -- it rewards them for checking in. By sharing their location, taking pictures, tagging friends and more, your kids earn points that can be exchanged for things on their wish list. Visit iTunes.com for more information.
Life360 Family Locator
This free app lets you track your loved ones' locations and offers a monitoring service to identify sex offenders who may be living in your area. Life360 is also the only tracking application that's compatible with regular phones, so you can locate family members who may not have a Smartphone. Visit iTunes.com for more information.
Kids ID Lite
Kids ID is an electronic ID card for your entire family. It makes it easy to keep all of your child's vital information up-to-date, organized and readily available if you need it. With one button, you can create and send an ID to a local store security office, a local or national law enforcement agency and more. Download this free app on iTunes.com.