PEORIA, Ill. (WMBD) — Peoria’s top firefighter ticked off a list of safety tips for the young’uns next week but Shawn Sollberger stopped and remembered one thing that was key to a successful Halloween.

“Have fun,” the fire chief and self-professed lover of all things Hallows Eve.

Each year, hundreds of ghouls, ghosts, gremlins and gizmos will take to Peoria’s streets in search of candy and fun. And each year, Peoria police and fire officials stress the safety aspects, most of which are fairly common sense.

  • Go in groups and know where you are. If a house is dark, then don’t knock on the door. Set a time when you are leaving and when you are going to be finished.
  • Bundle up. Tuesday night is calling for the coldest temperature so far of the season, with the mercury dipping into the low 30s.
  • Bring flashlights or glow sticks for both your own vision and so others can see you.
  • Don’t take candy or treats that aren’t pre-sealed. As the chief noted, throwing out one probably will not reduce one’s haul.

The local chapter of the American Red Cross sent out a flyer on safety tips and one stressed good pedestrian safety.

“Look both ways before crossing streets (at street corners). Use sidewalks to walk to the next destination. If sidewalks are not available, walk on the edge of the roadway, while facing traffic. Cross at the corners of the street, not between parked cars,” the flyer said.

Ever the firefighter, Sollberger noted that people should take care with the typical costumes many kids wear. Made of plastic, they are often highly flammable and the chief noted that with the prevalence of firepits, there’s an increased risk.

A child was burned last year, he said, and while that youth didn’t suffer life-threatening injuries, it was enough that the burns will have lasting effects. Another possible threat is the rising trend of pumpkins with candles in them.

He stressed he didn’t want to ruin the night for people but also said people should exercise caution when around open flames.

Facebook posts from the McLean County Sheriff’s Office and the Bartonville Police Department echoed the chief’s thoughts.

“Drivers, it’s Halloween and children get excited! Turn on your headlights early in the day to help spot kids from further away. Slow down and be overly cautious in residential areas. Children may dart into the street because of their spooky season excitement,” the sheriff’s office’s post said.

For those having parties, the Illinois Department of Public Health recommended that all party-goers stay home if feeling sick or get tested for viruses like COVID or RSV.

“Party hosts should include outdoor spaces if possible and review options for improving ventilation in their homes to keep germs from spreading,” the department said earlier this week. “And the best protection from respiratory bugaboos like COVID-19, the flu and RSV – protection that lasts through the fall and winter seasons – is to get fully vaccinated.”

Lastly, dress for the weather. Sollberger said layers can prevent a child from getting too hot or too cold. Getting too hot might seem odd on a chilly night but it’s possible given the costumes tend to trap in moisture.

Parents, he said, should look out for signs of kids getting too cold. Discolored lips and fingers are one sign. Red blotchy faces are another. Bring hand warmers or a thermos of warm to hot liquid if possible. And if a parent is walking with a child, bring a heavier coat just in case.