Little ghosts, goblins and princesses are getting ready to trick-or-treat Wednesday and Thursday. That means a lot of fun and candy. But, police also want to make sure all those costumed cuties stay safe.
Altoona Police Officer Brett Handy knows about keeping kids safe. He tells a group of students at Centennial Elementary, "The best thing I can tell you to do is we never go in anyone's house and we never go in anyone's car unless your mom and dad says it's ok."
Handy teaches stranger danger in Altoona elementary schools. And, he has a special message during the month of October. He says, “We go to the classrooms and talk about Halloween safety."
He says the key to staying safe is staying close to mom and dad, making sure you can see and hear out of any masks, and staying out of people's homes even on Halloween. Handy says, "Hopefully the parents give them the guidelines, don't go into people's houses, still don't talk to people you don't know. You can be friendly to them, but don't go and get in their cars or houses and that type of thing."
As kids get older, they may want to start trick-or-treating on their own. And, parents can use their smart phones to help keep them safe. Jason Bathke with Verizon Wireless and father of a 15 year-old says, "It's not cool to trick-or-treat with dad anymore, so this will help me feel more secure.”
Bathke recommends three apps that can be used any time of year. But, these are especially handy on Halloween, starting with a free flashlight app to help your kids see and be seen. Bathke says, "There are several on there. And, just choose the highest rated one."
He also recommends the free FBI Child ID application, in case your child ever goes missing. He says, "What's nice about that is you're capable of storing at least one or multiple pictures with that along with a description of your child."
A Verizon Wireless app called The Family Locator can help parents keep tabs on their kids at all times. Bathke says, "What I like about this is it makes me feel a little more safe allowing my children to go out and trick or treat on their own."
Officer Handy says no matter the age, it's best for costumed kids to follow the old fashioned rule of trick-or-treating together. He says, "Make sure they go out in multiple groups. 3,4,5. 1 or 2 isn't bad, but I would say the more the merrier. A little bit safer when you have more people that are kind of watching after each other."
The Family Locator app costs about $10 a month.
Officer Handy says kids should also wait for their parents to look through treats before eating. People used to be worried about others adding objects to candy. Now, the concern is allergies.