By peoplestaff225
Updated October 30, 2009 01:30 PM
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Halloween is practically a rite of passage for American kids.

Candy, costumes, parties and other fun festivities make it an exciting annual event. But it can also be quite dangerous if everyone’s not totally careful — masks, candles, strangers and germs can make the evening less than pleasant.

We spoke with pet and baby safety expert Debra Holtzman, author of The Safe Baby, Expanded and Revised: A Do-It-Yourself Guide to Home Safety and Healthy Living, to get her tips on keeping Halloween fun instead of frightful.

1. Make sure costumes are flame-resistant, well-fitting and flexible. Be sure accessories follow these guidelines, too. If any pieces are baggy or long, be sure to tailor them. “Children should wear well-fitting, sturdy shoes, as well,” says Holtzman. “This will help prevent trips and falls.”

2. Consider non-toxic makeup instead of a mask. “Facial gear can can obstruct the child’s vision or restrict breathing,” cautions Holtzman. “If they do wear a mask, make sure the child can see and breathe easily.”

3. Do not let children under the age of 12 go trick-or-treating or cross the street without the supervision of an adult. For guidance and safety sake, accompany younger children to the door of every home or apartment they visit. “Make sure to stay on well-lighted streets, too,” says Holtzman.

4. Be sure that teens go trick-or-treating in a group. “They should be taught to only stop at familiar homes and those with an outside light on,” shares Holtzman. “Make sure they know that they should not go inside any home or apartment.” Give teens a cell phone to carry with them, too.

5. Illuminate jack-o-lanterns with flashlights or glow sticks. Avoid candles as they can pose a danger for trick-or-treaters who may come in contact with the open flames and ignite their costumes.

6. As a parent, tote a bag filled with Halloween-night essentials. Holtzman recommends carrying a fully-charged cell phone pre-programmed with numbers for doctors, poison control and family members; flashlights and reflective tape; alcohol-based disposable hand wipes or gel sanitizers; bandages and antiseptic wipes; and bottled water with some healthy snacks.