As Halloween creeps closer, the National Fire Protection Association® (NFPA®) is reminding the public that fire safety hazards often lurk among spooky decorations and festivities. With these potential risks in mind, the association encourages everyone to take simple precautions that can help ensure a festively fun, safe holiday.
“From decorating with jack-o-lanterns and other seasonal items to costume parties and trick-or-treating, many hallmarks of Halloween can present potential fire hazards,” said Lorraine Carli, vice president of Outreach and Advocacy at NFPA. “Fortunately, the vast majority of these risks can be prevented with a little added awareness and caution.”
According to NFPA data, candles accounted for an annual average of 7,400 home fires, resulting in 90 deaths, 670 injuries and $291 million in direct property damage between 2015 and 2019. In addition, an annual average of 790 home structure fires began with decorations, causing one civilian fire death, 26 civilian fire injuries, and $13 million in direct property damage; more than two of every five (44 percent) of these fires occurred when decorations were placed too close to a heat source, such as a candle or hot equipment.
NFPA offers these tips and guidelines for enjoying a boo-tiful and fire-safe Halloween:
• Decorations: Many common decorations like cornstalks, crepe paper, and dried flowers are very flammable. Keep these and similar decorations far away from any open flames or heat sources, like candles, heaters, and light bulbs.
• Candles: Using candles as decoration can be risky if not done correctly. Keep them in a well- attended area out of the path of potential trick-or-treaters. Remind children of the dangers of open flames, and make sure they are always supervised when candles are lit. Always extinguish candles before leaving an area.
• Jack-o-lanterns: Glow sticks or electric candles are the safest choice when it comes to lighting up your jack-o-lantern, but if you choose to use a real candle, do so with extreme caution. Light a candle inside a jack-o-lantern using long fireplace matches or a utility lighter and keep it away from other decorations.
• Costumes: Avoid fabric that billows or trails behind you, as these can easily ignite. If you are making your own costume, avoid loosely woven fabrics like linen and cotton, which can be very flammable.
• Visibility: Give children flashlights or glowsticks for lighting, these can even be incorporated into the costume. If your child has a mask, ensure the eye holes are large enough for them to see clearly.
• Smoke Alarms: This is a great time to make sure your smoke alarms are in working order.
• Exits: Exits are NOT an appropriate place for decorations. When decorating, ensure that nothing is blocking escape routes, including doors and windows.
Visit the NFPA Halloween safety page for more resources of how to stay safe. For more Halloween fire safety for kids and families, visit www.sparkyschoolhouse.org and www.sparky.org.