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Leaves are falling, temperatures are dropping, and pumpkin-flavored everything is popping up everywhere – Ladies and Gentlemen, Fall is finally here. Along with this long-awaited beginning of the coziest season yet comes one of the most popular holidays around – Halloween! Here are some helpful tips and advice to ensure both fun and safety during your trick-or-treating adventures for kids, teens, and adults alike.

Before you get started…
  • Keep costumes both creative and safe.
  • Decorate costumes and bags with reflective tape or stickers.
  • Face paint and makeup are better than masks, which can obstruct a child’s vision.
  • Have children carry glow sticks or flashlights to help them see and be seen by drivers.
  • Make sure the costume is the right size to prevent trips and falls. If possible, choose a light-colored costume.
While you’re walking…
  • Only cross the street at corners with traffic signals or crosswalks.
  • Look left, right and left again before crossing and pay attention as you cross the street.
  • Put electronic devices down and keep heads up.
  • Walk, don’t run, across the street.
  • Teach children to make eye contact with drivers before crossing in front of them.
  • Always walk on sidewalks or paths. If there are no sidewalks, walk facing traffic as far to the left as possible.  (Children should walk on direct routes with the fewest street crossings.)
  • Watch for cars that are turning or backing up. Teach children to never dart out into the street or cross between parked cars.
While going door-to-door…
  • Check candy for choking hazards like gum and hard candies. Throw away any candy that is not sealed with a wrapper and avoid homemade treats received from strangers.
  • If you’re turning your home into a haunted house keep safety in mind. Make sure steps, sidewalks, porches, and paths are well-lit and free of decorations and holiday props.
  • Only approach houses with a partner and stick to porches that are well lit.
  • Be mindful of allergies when selecting which candy you’d like to eat or pass out.
While you’re driving…
  • Drive VERY slow. Be VERY alert. Children are excited on Halloween and may move in unpredictable ways.
  • Take extra time to look for kids at intersections, on medians, and curbs.
  • Enter and exit driveways and alleys slowly and carefully.
  • Eliminate as many internal distractions as possible to concentrate on the road and your surroundings.
  • Anticipate heavy pedestrian traffic and turn your headlights on earlier in the day to spot children from greater distances.
If you have a teenager…
  • Review the importance of obeying the law. Sit down with your child and discuss private property, town curfews, and alcohol regulations.
  • Remind them of your house rules and be upfront that police are patrolling and looking for misbehaving teens.
  • If they are going to a party, speak to the parents of the host to ensure it will be chaperoned.
  • Review driving safety. Remind your teen that both young children and intoxicated drivers will be on the roads that evening.
  • If your kids are going to a party, tell them to keep an eye on their drink. Once they have put it down, they should not drink it again.
  • Clearly discuss with your teen where they can and cannot go.
  • Track their whereabouts with apps like Snapchat or Find my iPhone.
  • Limit the number of friends in a car. Be proactive and remove distractions for your teen driver and limit the number of kids allowed to ride.
Always remember…
Popular trick-or-treating hours are 5:30 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. so be especially alert for young children during those hours. Also, kids under the age of 12 should NOT be alone at night without adult supervision. If kids are mature enough to be out without supervision, they should stick to familiar areas that are well lit and/or trick-or-treat in groups.
Most importantly...
HAVE FUN! Enjoy the day in your own safe and responsible way. Connect with family and friends alike and make this Halloween one to pleasantly remember!
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May is National Military Appreciation Month


May is best known for Memorial Day - the last Monday of the month, however in 1999 congress designated entire month of May to recognize and appreciate the Armed Forces of America - past and present. Each year the president makes a proclamation, reminding Americans of the important role the U.S. Armed Forces have played in the history and development of our country. flags 2

Here are 7 ways we reblogged from that you can do to celebrate the month and show your appreciation to the brave men and women who serve and have served our country!  
  • Saying thank you. If you see a member of the armed forces in his or her uniform, take a moment to shake hands, and simply say that you appreciate their service. In the same way, many veterans wear a hat or shirt that reflects their prior service. Taking a moment just to offer your gratitude is simple and free.
  • Help their loved ones. If you are a friend or acquaintance with the family of a deployed service member, consider little ways in which you could help with every day tasks to give them a hand. Maybe the lawn could use mowing, a hot meal could be delivered at suppertime, or the kids needs to be picked up from school one day. Small things that might give a break to the husband or wife working to do all family roles of their own could go a long way.
  • Offer and publicize a military discount. If you are a business owner, a military discount for all current and prior service members could be an easy way to show your thanks. Make it easy on them by posting it somewhere near checkout and ensuring your staff are aware. Even small discounts are appreciated by members of our military and their families, and every penny saved helps a family’s budget stretch further.
  • Send a care package. There are numerous organizations that can pair you with a deployed soldier who would love to receive a care package from home. You can send one from yourself or your family, or even organize a collection drive at your work or in your community. If you need ideas for what to include, these organizations often offer a “wish list” that makes it easy to fulfill. You can also create a theme for your packages to make them extra fun. This could be a great activity to do with your kids to help them remember members of our armed forces who are currently deployed while our daily lives go on as usual.
  • Decorate or clean up at your local cemetery. While there are some organizations that attempt to maintain the graves of the fallen servicemen, perhaps in your city or town, it has been a while. Simple bouquets of flowers (often on sale at super stores during May for this very reason) or small American flags could be a nice gesture you could distribute to the graves of veterans on your lunch break or one afternoon If more work is needed, perhaps you could take your family or a group of friends to volunteer to do heavier cleaning for the graves. Showing respect to these men and women, even after they have passed, is an honorable way to celebrate NMAM.
  • Donate to or volunteer at your local VA hospital. Many of our wounded warriors are recovering and fighting every day to return to normal life after injuries sustained in the theater of war. VA hospitals also serve and care for our older veterans who served honorably years ago. By volunteering at the hospital (there are many things that untrained civilians can do around the facility to help) or even donating things like blankets, new warm socks, or other similar comfort and care items can make a person’s stay just a bit more comfortable. There are often also nearby VA-associated group homes where the patient’s families are staying during treatment. You can also volunteer there, helping with meals or even maintenance of the grounds.
  • Fly a flag at your home of place of business. This is perhaps the simplest way to show your respect and appreciation for the work that our active member and reservists do, and what our veterans have done. The American flag is an important symbol in their daily lives, and by showing it the proper respect and honor, you are thanking them as well. Why not wear a lapel pin on your clothes for the entire month? Putting it on every morning and seeing it in the mirror throughout the day will be a reminder to think about with gratitude all our armed forces members have done and continue to do for those needing help across the globe.
Thank you to all active, reserve, and veteran members of our armed forces. We hope you feel the gratitude and appreciation of our nation during NMAM.
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