Halloween is one of America's most celebrated holidays. It represents a time for spooky fun, imaginative costumes, and most of all - delicious treats. Before the kids go out trick or treating, here are some practical tips to keep kids safe on Halloween.

1. Check your child's costume thoroughly.

Because many costumes are cheaply made, they often are not practical. Make sure the costume and/or mask is breathable with proper ventilation around the nose and mouth and that your child has good visibility. Autumn nights can be cold, so be certain that your child is warm enough when wearing his or her costume (add a long sleeve shirt, gloves, scarf, etc if necessary). Finally, it's important that children can easily remove their own costumes for bathroom breaks. Don't let a preventable accident ruin their Halloween!

2. Really get to know your neighborhood

...or the location where your child will be trick or treating. Make sure that your child knows his her her way around the basic streets of your neighborhood. If necessary, take your child on a walk-through before Halloween to assure that he or she is familiar with the route, especially if you will not be accompanying your child. Unfortunately, it's essential to be aware of any local sex offenders. Click here for the New Jersey Sex Offender Registry. These offenders are prohibited to participate in Halloween trick or treating, so if you see a registered home with lights on and candy, report this to authorities immediately.

3. Always walk in groups or with a buddy.

If kids are not trick or treating with parents, they should team up with each other at all times on Halloween night. Young children should always be accompanied by an adult. Halloween is a great time to teach kids about buddy systems and the dangers of walking alone at night. Also, be sure to carry a flashlight, especially for neighborhoods with little or no streetlights. This is a great way to not only  increase visibility but to alert drivers of trick or treaters.

4. Never enter homes.

Even if a resident invites you and/or your child inside, do not enter anyone's house. Instead, kindly tell them that you have an outdoor-only trick or treat policy.

5. Carefully check all Halloween candy before allowing your children to eat it.

Make sure candy items are in their original, unopened wrappers and that the wrappers are not tarnished or torn. Check fruit and homemade treats for abnormal signs of having been punctured or tampered with. Stick to the general rule: "When in doubt, throw it out"! Also, allow your child to consume candy in moderation. Too much candy can be harmful for children's digestion, energy levels, sleep and brain activity.

Looking for a safe alternative to outdoor trick or treating? Check out the Halloween 2012 Trick or Treat Events at NJ Malls.