Trick or treating starts tonight; safety first

Thousands of area youngsters will hit the streets throughout the coming week dressed as ghouls, goblins and a host of other frightening and fanciful figures.

It’s that time of year again, the right of passage that spurs fond memories for many – trick or treating.

This year, though, will be somewhat special as Halloween traditions and celebrations were buried – in snow – a year ago by Superstorm Sandy and its aftermath.

The frights begin tonight, as businesses in downtown Elkins – including The Inter-Mountain – participate in the candy-giving tradition. Costumed children will descend upon downtown streets at 5 p.m. and have until 6 p.m. to gather as many goodies as possible.

It’s refreshing to see the Elkins business community come together to celebrate in a time of so many economic challenges. More than a dozen merchants will take part in the event. Children also will be able to receive glow-in-the-dark trick-or-treat bags they can use during the city’s spooky holiday outing slated from 6 to 7:30 p.m. Thursday on Halloween.

As children scour area cities and towns for sweet treats, parents and children alike should be cautious.

A few precautions to keep in mind are:

– Make sure costumes are the proper length. It may seem like a good idea to go for that really scary look, but if the costume is too long or too big, it can cause a tripping hazard.

– Plan a route in advance. Stick to a known course to avoid getting lost and always travel in groups. It also isn’t advised to go to unfamiliar neighborhoods or houses.

– Avoid going too realistic with props. These can be a real danger when running, although running should be avoided as well.

-Stay in well-lit areas. Also, use of reflective tape can prevent accidents with automobiles. It also is a good idea to carry a flashlight.

– Masks are another costume accessory that can complete that perfect look, but they also can obscure views when crossing streets and maneuvering up to someone’s porch.

– This should go unsaid, but check your child’s candy. It always is best to err on the side of caution, even if you receive candy from known households. Immediately throw away all candy that is not in wrappers, or if the wrappers appear to be tampered with.

If these guidelines are followed, a happy, healthy – and not so scary – Halloween will be had by all.