Decorations for special events, most often involving candles, account for an annual average of 800 home fires, causing nearly $4 million in direct property damage, according to National Fire Protection Association (NFPA). Two of every five of these fires were started by a candle. Additionally, in the United States, more than 100 people die each year as a result of their clothing becoming ignited.
Halloween is a fun and spooky time of year for children but they should be closely supervised and their costumes made with fire safety in mind. Taking simple fire safety precautions, like making sure fabrics for costumes and decorative materials are flame resistant, can prevent fires. Make trick-or-treating safe for your little monsters with a few easy safety tips:
- When choosing a costume, stay away from long trailing fabric. If you are making your own costume, choose material that won’t easily ignite if it comes into contact with heat or flame. If your child is wearing a mask, make sure the eye holes are large enough so they can see out.
- Provide children with flashlights to carry for lighting or glow sticks as part of their costume.
- Keep dried flowers, cornstalks and crepe paper well away from all open flames and heat sources, including light bulbs and heaters.
- It is safest to use a flashlight or battery-operated candles in a jack-o-lantern. If you use a real candle, use extreme caution. Make sure children are watched at all times when candles are lit. When lighting candles inside jack-o-lanterns, use long fireplace-style matches or a utility lighter.
- Be sure to place lit pumpkins well away from anything that can burn and far enough out of the way of trick-or-treaters, doorsteps, and walkways.
- Remember to keep exits clear of decorations, so nothing blocks escape routes.
- Remove obstacles from lawns, steps and porches when expecting trick-or-treaters.
- Tell children to stay away from open flames. Have them practice stopping immediately, dropping to the ground, covering their face with their hands, and rolling over and over to put the flames out if their clothing catches fire.
- Use battery-operated candles as alternatives to wax candles or torch lights when decorating walkways and yards. They are much safer for trick-or-treaters, whose costumes may brush against the lighting.
- If your children are going to Halloween parties at others’ homes, have them look for ways out of the home and plan how they would get out in an emergency.
- Indoors, keep candles and jack-o-lanterns away from curtains, decorations and other combustibles that could become ignited.
- Indoors or outside, use only lights that have been tested for safety by a recognized testing laboratory.
- Check each set of lights, new or old, for broken or cracked sockets, frayed or bare wires, or lose connections. Discard damaged sets. Don’t overload extensions cords.
Be safe and have a Happy Halloween!