With 2013 only days away, area residents are preparing to celebrate the end of 2012 and the dawn of a new year.

With 2013 only days away, area residents are preparing to celebrate the end of 2012 and the dawn of a new year.

Area law enforcement officials say it is important to remember a few safety tips when partaking in the New Year's Eve festivities.

"I think the biggest thing is to pre-plan," said Neosho Police Chief Dave McCracken. "Have a designated driver or some means of transportation."

McCracken said it is also important those who aren't celebrating, but who are traveling the roadways on New Year's Eve, be on the lookout for cars driving dangerously.

"For other drivers on the road, it's important to be watchful and report erratic driving," McCracken said.

He said in the past, the Neosho Police Department has had extra officers patrolling the streets on New Year's Eve and likely will again this year.

He said the department will also take some extra measures to be seen that night.

Chris Jennings, chief deputy with the Newton County Sheriff's Department, said sheriff's deputies would also be out in larger numbers on Dec. 31, mostly because of the large crowds that are expected to be out and about that night.

He said the department likely will not set up checkpoints, but will instead have what he called wolfpacks, where multiple units concentrate on certain areas.

He said the best advice for New Year's Eve partygoers is also the most obvious.

"The best tip is the designated driver, without a doubt," Jennings said. "Be aware of your situation because there will be a lot of people out."

He said it's also important to keep in mind that the evening's festivities attract some people who don't go out as often, which can sometimes lead to problems.

"There will be a lot of people drinking that don't normally," Jennings said, noting that fights tend to escalate more easily in those types of situations. "Know your surroundings and be careful."

Both Jennings and McCracken said they had seen a slightly higher number of impaired drivers on New Year's Eves of the past, though Jennings said that number has seemed to decrease a bit.

"I think a lot more people take advantage of designated drivers," he said.

Regardless, both officials say the night comes with increased risks, and area residents should use caution.

"Everybody should have a good time, but be mindful of everybody else's safety as well as their own," McCracken said. "Everybody needs to look out for somebody else."