SIKESTON -- Halloween may be a holiday about spooks, but it's also about safety.
"With it being on a Friday this year, there will likely be more trick-or-treaters and there will also be more adults (out celebrating)," said Sgt. Dale Moreland, public information and education officer for Troop E of the Missouri State Highway Patrol. That means those celebrating, as well as motorists, should be aware and take safety precautions to avoid injuries or tragedy this Friday.
"Halloween is usually a pretty calm holiday for us, because it's a children's holiday," said Terry Stevens, sheriff in New Madrid county. "And most people do use common sense."
It's the same case in Sikeston. "We have very few problems," said Capt. John Martin. Issues the department does face are mostly minor vandalism.
The law enforcement officials offered some tips to keep this year's holiday another safe one. "Safety is, on all levels, the common theme," said Stevens.
"Watch for those small children darting in and out of traffic and around cars," urged Moreland. "Be aware that there is going to be a change in traffic patterns and be courteous -- use your turn signals and other proper driving techniques."
Stevens and Moreland suggested reflective stickers or bright clothing. "There are always a lot of dark-colored costumes, so make sure someone in your group wears something light-colored," said Moreland.
Glow lights are also a good idea. But Martin urged those be used with caution, too, and children should not try to disassemble or bite into them.
"They have a liquid inside that can present a burn issue if taken orally," said Martin.
Those who are out trick-or-treating should also make sure their costume fits right and is appropriate for safety, too, officials added.
"We urge people not to make their costumes too long where they can trip and fall and stumble," said Moreland. According to the National Safety Council, falls are the leading cause of accidental injury on Halloween. That can be due to wearing a long costume, or just the wrong shoes.
Martin suggested children keep their masks off while walking on the streets or sidewalks "so they can see and hear."
Stevens said he encourages children to be accompanied by adults while out and about. And Martin said DPS prefers that, too.
"And it's always best to have your (trick-or-treating) over before it turns dark," he said. That's when most towns set curfews, or ask that for trick-or-treaters head home, said Stevens.
There is no official ordinance in Sikeston, but it's requested that trick-or-treaters are out between the hours of 5 and 9 p.m., said Martin.
"We will have patrols out to ensure the traffic and pedestrian safety during that time," said Martin.
While trick-or-treating, the officials urged that families need to remember to only go to homes with the lights on. And when going to an unfamiliar neighborhood, practice extra caution, said Martin. "Be careful if you are parking not to block or obstruct traffic," he said.
Of course, children should not accept treats not wrapped, and let their parents or an adult OK it before they eat. "If parents see anything suspicious, call us to report it," said Martin.
In a recent news release, the MSHP even advised those passing out treats to consider pens, erasers, small party favors and other items inside of candy.
But not all the danger is on the streets in neighborhoods where youngsters scout for treats.
"There is a lot more traffic out, so we do occasionally have an increase in accidents," said Moreland.
He also noted that several parties for adults will likely involve alcohol. "Remember, no drinking and driving," said Moreland. Extra patrol will be on the roadways Friday evening.
Martin said DPS, too, will "be out in force for the entire evening."
> Walk, slither, and sneak on sidewalks, not in the street.
> Look both ways before crossing the street to check for cars, trucks, and low-flying brooms.
> Cross the street only at corners.
> Don't hide or cross the street between parked cars.
> Wear light-colored or reflective-type clothing so you are more visible. (And remember to put reflective tape on bikes, skateboards, and brooms, too!)
> Plan your route and share it with your family. If possible, have an adult go with you.
Carry a flashlight to light your way.
> Keep away from open fires and candles. (Costumes can be extremely flammable.)
> Visit homes that have the porch light on.
> Accept your treats at the door and never go into a stranger's house.
> Use face paint rather than masks or things that will cover your eyes.
> Be cautious of animals and strangers
> Have a grown-up inspect your treats before eating. And don't eat candy if the package is already opened. Small, hard pieces of candy are a choking hazard for young children
Source: American Red Cross