When I first moved to Scranton 13 years ago, I asked my colleagues about trick-or-treating days and times. Everyone looked at me like I was crazy. Growing up in the northwest corner of the state, in Erie County, each municipality set its own day and time for trick-or-treating. Often, if Halloween fell in the middle of the week, towns would set their trick-or-treating times for the weekend before.

Here in NEPA, I’ll have my lights on and the bowl of candy ready as soon as the sun begins to set on Halloween night. My daughters will be a witch and a unicorn this year, and here are some tips to keep them, and every little superhero, monster or princess safe.

The American Red Cross’ Eastern Pennsylvania Region offers these Halloween safety tips for parents:

  • Make sure trick-or-treaters can see and be seen.
  • Use face make-up instead of masks. Masks can make it hard to see.
  • Give kids a flashlight to light their way.
  • Add reflective tape to costumes and trick-or-treat bags.
  • Have everyone wear light-colored clothing.
  • Use flame-resistant costumes.
  • Plan the trick-or-treat route in advance — make sure adults know where their children are going. A parent or responsible adult should accompany young children door-to-door in neighborhoods.
  • Be cautious around animals, especially dogs.
  • Walk, don’t run.
  • Only visit homes that have a porch light on. Accept treats at the door — never go inside.
  • Walk only on the sidewalks, not in the street. If no sidewalk is available, walk at the edge of the roadway, facing traffic.
  • Look both ways before crossing the street, and cross only at the corner. Don’t cut across yards or between parked cars, and don’t use alleys.
  • Make sure a grown-up checks the goodies before eating. Remove loose candy, open packages and choking hazards. Discard any items with brand names that you are not familiar with.
  • Drivers should use extra caution, the Red Cross advises. The youngsters are excited and may forget to look both ways before crossing.
  • And finally, for those planning to welcome trick-or-treaters to their homes, follow these safety steps:
    • Light the area well so young visitors can see.
    • Sweep leaves from your sidewalks and steps. Clear your porch or front yard of obstacles someone could trip over.