Q: I vaguely remember a column where you discussed Halloween safety practices. My child is old enough to go to a party this year, and I want to be sure he's safe, so will you remind us again? -- Alvin Alert
A: Dear Mr. Alert: I'm flattered you recall a column from 2008, vaguely or not. I'll be happy to "remind" parents and guardians of these revised strategies to keep kids safe on the scariest night of the year, compliments of Cathy Lewandowski, AT&T's marketing director then and now.
First, this is a great time to give your young witches and goblins a cell phone, regardless if they normally use one or not. Activate old phones with a prepaid calling card and fully charge them before Count Dracula and Witchipoo start out their evening.
Program emergency numbers as a speed dial; the numbers also can be programmed as I-C-E (in case of emergency), which is a good idea for anyone's phone at any time. Tell your children to call home immediately should they become separated from others in their group or feel uncomfortable within their surroundings. Be sure to be within earshot of your own phone.
Maintain contact information with chaperones. Trade phone numbers with all parents who're with you and those who are with your kids. And establish regular check-in times for both younger and older partygoers and/or trick-or-treaters.
Drive responsibly. Take advantage of hands-free options while using your phone in the car, especially with so many youngsters out crossing the streets.
Be a wireless Samaritan. Keep a lookout for anything suspicious or out of place and, if you note such, instantly call law enforcement authorities.
For young and old, have a safe and enjoyable Halloween!
Ellen Phillips is a retired English teacher who has written two consumer-oriented books. Her Consumer Watch column appears on Saturdays in the Business section of the paper. An expanded version is at www.timesfreepress.com under Local Business.