An estimated 94 percent of children between the ages of 4 and 12 participate in Halloween activities each year, according to the Oregon State Police, Missing Children Clearinghouse and the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.
For innocent young children, Halloween can - and should be - a day of fun-filled activities that include going out in their neighborhoods wearing costumes and seeking candy.
For most adults, Halloween splits between enjoying the sights and sounds of young trick-or-treaters to vague annoyance over the interruptions they might cause.
Factor in darkness, dark costumes, youngsters that might not be aware of or remember basic safety rules and alcohol consumption at Halloween parties for some adults and you have the potential recipe for a dangerous situation.
Area police agencies want to take the potential for danger out of the day and so do we. So before Halloween rolls around on Monday, here are some tips from police to consider for keeping tricks and treats safe, fun and healthy:
* Select white or bright, flame-retardant costumes or add reflective tape to costumes and candy bags so children are easily seen in the dark. In addition, have them each carry a glow stick or flashlight.
* Plan a trick-or-treating route in familiar neighborhoods with well-lit streets. Avoid unfamiliar neighborhoods, streets that are isolated or homes that are poorly lit.
* Never send young children out alone. They should always be accompanied by a parent or another trusted adult.
* Walk younger children to the door to receive treats and don't let children enter a home unless you are with them.
* Older children should always travel in groups. Plan their entire route and make sure their family knows what it is.
* Agree to a time when trick-or-treaters will return home.
* Walk on sidewalks and driveways.
* Cross the street at the corner or in a crosswalk.
* Obey all traffic and pedestrian regulations.
* Don't assume the right of way. Motorists may have trouble seeing trick-or-treaters. Just because one car stops, doesn't mean others will.
* Take a cellular phone with you.
* Accept treats only in the doorway. Never enter a house.
* Avoid talking with strangers and never get into a car with a stranger.
* Be sure children do not approach any vehicle, occupied or not, unless you are with them.
* Make sure children know their home phone number and address in case you get separated. Teach children how to call 9-1-1 in an emergency.
* Teach children to say 'no!' or 'this is not my mother/father!' in a loud voice if someone tries to get them to go somewhere, accept anything other than a treat or leave with them. And teach them that they should make every effort to get away by kicking, screaming and resisting.
* Remind children to remain alert and to report suspicious incidents to parents and/or law enforcement.
* Secure emergency identification on trick-or-treaters that includes name, address and phone number.
* Consider organizing a home or community party as an alternative to trick-or-treating.
* And finally, make sure your child understands that he or she should not eat any treats until a parent or other trusted adult has had a chance to examine any bag of goodies.
Halloween should be a fun-filled day and evening. Please do all you can to make sure that happens. Be safe out there.