As municipalities prepare for the annual Halloween festivities, with trick or treating at the top of the list for many area children anxiously awaiting the opportunity to be in disguise and collect a sugary bounty, safety should remain a top priority for everyone.

Trick-or-treating in Western Pennsylvania has primarily been a scheduled event — different in every municipality — stretching over several days during the last week of October. No longer can you assume that children will be out and about only on Halloween night, Oct. 31.

It is a time where we as responsible community members must take seriously the increased amount of foot and vehicle traffic throughout our neighborhoods. Assembly of parades and others activities also brings more flurry to the neighborhood streets. While we should always be aware of our surroundings, events like this should be reminder to be a little extra cautious. Slow down and stay alert.

In a changing, often worrisome, world that we live in today, it’s also a time to remember and perhaps recapture the innocence of childhood traditions. This isn’t a time to become territorial about where families may decide to take their children trick or treating.

Typically, the protocol involves turning on a porch light to indicate that the house is accepting trick-or-treaters during the scheduled time for that municipality. For those residents who have issues with opening the door to children who are trick or treating outside of his or her residential area or neighborhood, please remember there are different reasons why a family may choose to do so, and in the grand scheme of life, is it really that big of a deal? Let’s try not to become exclusionary. But if you feel as though you must be, perhaps keeping the porch light off is the best solution. That said, we urge parents to consider the cost that many of our residents willingly incur when purchasing treats to hand out. It should be an enjoyable experience for everyone, not a race against the clock to take advantage of something for free. Furthermore, it is a great opportunity to teach our youth how to be accepting and appreciative.

And of course, parents should always stay alert to the usual warnings while trick or treating such as checking any candy ensuring there has been no tampering and that all treats are factory sealed. Accepting homemade treats from people you do not know is strongly discouraged. Adults should remain with young children at all times as they go door to door, especially after dark. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also warns against wearing ill-fitting masks and costumes due to tripping hazards, and to wear strips of reflective tape for trick or treating in the dark.

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