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Trick or Treat?

Halloween is just around the corner! The number one question I get this time of year is how to keep children safe while still enjoying the holiday. Here are my top three safety tips for doing just that!

1. Situational Awareness. My response starts with the usual request to be aware of your surroundings. Situational awareness is key to surviving any threat or crisis--know what's normal for your family and the area in which you live and what's not. Then have a plan for how to address the situation should it become abnormal.

2. Visibility. It's dark; children are excited and hopped up on sugar, so they're running around; and there are still cars on the road. Ensure you and your children wear reflective clothing and/or carry glow sticks. They make neat glow sticks that can be worn as necklaces, bracelets, or tucked into various costume accessories. It's a great way to keep kids visible without ruining the aesthetic of their costumes (which should be a distant second to keeping them safe!).

3. Candy check. I cannot tell you how many times I answer this question every year. "What exactly am I looking for when checking my kids candy?" The most basic answer is that you're looking for any evidence of tampering. Too, I recommend doing a thorough check when you get home on Halloween and then checking each piece individually again before they go to eat it. Most kids come home with dozens and dozens of pieces of candy. Make sure nothing slips through the cracks during your initial check on the big night with a follow-up review prior to eating.

- Only eat candy provided in original, manufacturer packaging. (Yes, this does mean throwing out homemade treats like popcorn or caramel apples.)

- Does the package look torn or ripped in any place? Throw it out.

- Gently squeeze the wrapper and you should feel some air trapped inside. If not, throw it out.

- Take a good look at wrappers with ends that are twisted together, like Tootsie Rolls (mmmm.....a favorite!). The ends should be tight. Open it up with your child when they're ready to eat it and survey the candy and wrapper. Nothing should be amiss with either--no powder coating on the candy or substance on the inside of the wrapper, etc. If it's not wrapped tightly or something looks wrong after opening, throw it out.

- Look at all of the candy out of the wrapper and prior to eating. Does it look unusual or discolored? Throw it out.

In sum, take a good look at all of the candy and if in doubt, throw it out.

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