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Halloween is almost always a nail-biter for parents, but not because of scary costumes and yard decorations. (Faux bloody corpses notwithstanding.)
With their children hidden under costumes and traveling with groups of friends, parents are understandably concerned about keeping their kids safe and preventing them from becoming lost.
Luckily, there are plenty of apps—and basic smartphone capabilities—that can help ensure a relatively stress-free evening, during which moms and dads can focus more on candy wrangling than actual child wrangling.
To start, don't forget about what you can do without a single app to help keep kids safe.
"Parents can set up alarms on a child's phone for periodic reminders to check in," Eric Larson, retail manager for U.S. Cellular Northeast Wisconsin, tells USA Today. "Parents should also program phone numbers into their child's phone as 'In Case of Emergency' (or 'ICE')."
ICE is a common label for emergency numbers that is both easy to type in as well as familiar to law enforcement, Larson adds.
Family Locator (free; Google Play) helps parents keep track of kids' smartphones in real time. They will even receive an alert when little ghosts and goblins get to where they're supposed to go.
FamilySignal (free; iOS) allows parents to see where kids are on a map as well as receive an alert if the child presses the included "panic button." If the kids just need a helping hand from Mom or Dad, they can hit "Touch Base" to reach a parent.
The Red Panic Button app (free to download, $2.99 per month; iOS, Google Play) allows the smartphone user to send a text message and email with a Google Maps GPS link to everyone on her panic contact list.
Footprints (free for 30 days, $3.99 for one-year subscription; iOS) is another GPS tracking app that keeps an electronic eye on users even when kids aren't checking their phones or the app. Parents can even set up "geofences" that send an alert when a boundary is crossed.
The FBI Child ID app (free; iOS) allows you to store photos and identifying information about your child, as well as easily access local authorities via email.
Life360 (free; iOS, Android, Windows) is helpful in that it sends an alert to users when members of specified groups check in to various locations. Not only that, but users can even set boundaries for other members of the group.
Keep in mind that these app tips are for kids who have smartphones. For kids who don't have access to iPhones or Androids, there are always the tried-and-true tips of wearing reflective clothing (or carrying glow sticks), trick-or-treating while it's still early, staying in groups and walking on sidewalks only.