"Tricks or treats?"

WHITEMAN AIR FORCE BASE, Mo. -- It seems that no matter what I put into a crime prevention article, when it comes to Halloween we can't get away from the same old common sense tips for safety and security for our children, homes and ourselves.

This year, as I researched police Web sites for information regarding the latest "tricks" people are using to harm our children, I came across interesting statistics about some Halloween urban legends. We all know them, a friend knows someone who received tainted candy, needles in a candy bar, someone found razor blades in apples, etc. In every story, there is always someone saying they heard it from a friend who has a friend or relative that lives where it happens. So should we believe these urban legends, or should we dismiss them? My research indicates that in very small numbers, things like this actually do happen, but there is a twist to it. In almost every case, investigation has determined the incident to be a hoax.

People wanting attention either create a false report or a relative taints the candy of the child that gets sick or hurt. So the question is, can we dismiss the idea that our children may receive tainted candy at Halloween? The common sense answer is "NO," we can not; when it comes to you and your familiy's safety, it is best to error on the side of caution. Tips to ensure you have a safe and happy Halloween include:

· Do not leave your home unattended
· Keep your pet(s) indoors or in another safe place
· Walk through your neighborhood with others to discourage acts of malicious mischief and speeding motorists
· Set a specific time limit for your child/children to be out
· Don't let your children eat any candy until it has been inspected by mom or dad
· Only give homemade treats to children you know; make sure they are properly wrapped
· Do not allow your children to eat homemade treats unless you know who personally made them
· Instruct your children to never enter the home of a stranger
· Never invite children into your home
· Instruct children not to stray from their group
· Do not allow children to go out alone
· Tell your children not to accept rides from strangers
· Turn your porch light on to let children know it is permissible to visit your home
· Ensure your children wear light colored clothing along with something reflective and
provide them with a working flashlight

Halloween is Saturday, and base Trick or Treating hours are from 6 to 8 p.m. If you would like additional information call the Resource Protection/Crime Prevention Office at (660) 687-4482.