SIKESTON - There are scarier things than ghouls and goblins awaiting trick-or-treaters on Halloween.
Accidents that result in a trip to the emergency room can prove much more hair-raising for children and parents alike and Micki Ballard, for one, isn't about to take any chances.
Although she wants the holiday to be fun for her boys, she says playing it safe will make the evening even more enjoyable for everyone.
After giving it much thought, Kodi Ballard, 4, has decided to transform himself into Bob the Builder Wednesday night and his brother, 6-month-old Kaleb, will become Casper the ghost.
"We'll go trick-or-treating at family members' homes, rather than going to a lot of different houses we aren't familiar with," said Ballard. "What I worry about is someone taking the boys. When I was little you really didn't worry about dangers that could be involved with Halloween but now you definitely do. I think when you have your own kids you worry about a bunch of different things, it's just different."
The Consumer Product Safety Commission cautions costumes, masks, beards and wigs should be made of flame-resistant fabrics such as nylon or polyester. Parents should look for the label ''Flame-Resistant.''
Avoid costumes made with flimsy materials, big baggy sleeves or skirts that could fall upon open flames.
Avoid long costumes and high heels. Falls are the leading cause of Halloween accidents. Accessories such as swords or knives should be made of soft, flexible material.
Masks, hats and scarves should fit well and provide adequate ventilation without obstructing vision.
Spooks under age 12 should have their name, address and phone number with area code attached to their clothes in a visible area.
Although some parents are trading the traditional trick-or-treating festivities for Halloween parties various churches and organizations are having, others agree with Kim Justice in not wanting their children to miss out on the full trick-or-treating experience they were given.
"I know especially with all the terrorist scares that some parents are not taking their kids trick-or-treating this year, but I'm not really worried right now," Justice said. "I guess my biggest thing is watching for cars. We only go in certain neighborhoods though, and to houses that are well lit and have their porch lights on."
She remembers a time when she and her friends would gather their treats without having an adult with them. But that, she said, is no longer the case. She and the childrens' grandmother will go with 8-year-old Richard who'll be a hobo; 6-year-old Nathan as Peter Pan; and Carrie, age 3, who is insistent on being Humpty Dumpty.
"Trick-or-treating has changed a lot since I was little," Justice said. "We'd go around by ourselves when we got older, but now I wouldn't do that for nothing in the world."
Justice suggested children carry flashlights, adding that it wouldn't be a bad idea to put reflective tape that will glow in a car's headlights on the children's costumes.
Other suggestions are to keep candles and jack-o'-lanterns away from curtains, decorations and the path of trick-or-treaters.
As far as checking the safety of the Halloween candy received, when in doubt, throw it out. The Consumer Product Safety Commission advises children not to eat any treats before an adult has examined them for evidence of tampering.
Also, make sure toys received by young trick-or-treaters are not small enough -- and do not have components small enough -- to present a choking hazard.
Taking a few extra precautionary measures can make for a safe and happy Halloween night.