OUR OPINION: The guises, and dangers, of Halloween

Halloween appears to be a holiday in transition.

The many guises of Halloween have included: a fun, mildly frightening, trick-or-treat event for children; destructive Devil’s Night arsons; motivation for monster movie marathons; a time to examine, inspect and X-ray candy; and a catalyst for safer, alternative activities sponsored by communities and churches.

Sadly, Halloween also has been associated with an increasing prevalence of drunken driving.

Cole County Sheriff Greg White recently announced a DWI enforcement during the coming Halloween weekend, which he characterized as “one of our most dangerous weekends of the year because of those who elect to drink and drive.”

The sheriff cited National Highway Traffic Safety Administration statistics that revealed 44 percent of all highway fatalities on Halloween night involved a driver or motorcyclist who was drunk.

Public safety issues associated with Halloween also prompted the Jefferson City Fire Department and Missouri Highway Patrol to issue basic safety reminders for both children and adults.

They include:

  • Purchase non-flammable costumes and accessories to avoid burns from candles and jack-o’-lanterns.
  • Be sure costumes and masks do not impair movement or vision, and are light-colored and clearly visible to motorists. Also recommended is the use of reflective tape and flashlights.
  • Carry accessories — swords, knives, etc. — that are soft and flexible, and will not cause punctures or other injuries.

Whether people choose to observe Halloween trick-or-treating in neighborhoods, participating in sponsored activities or attending private parties, we encourage everyone to prioritize safety.

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