Glowing jack-o-lanterns, festive decorations and spooky costumes—Halloween offers tons of festive fun, but it does come with hidden fire dangers that can be truly scary. Fortunately, by following some simple safety precautions from the National Fire Protection Association, you can ensure a day of safe fun for your family and trick-or-treaters.
“Everyone loves decorating their homes and wearing colorful costumes on Halloween, and we want them to enjoy it all,” said Lorraine Carli, NFPA’s vice president of Outreach and Advocacy, “but this holiday can quickly turn hazardous if proper precautions aren’t taken.”
Candle decorations and costumes with billowing or long trailing fabric are a fire risk, according to Carli.
NFPA’s most recent statistics show that decorations were the first items to be ignited in 920 reported home structure fires on average each year, resulting in six civilian deaths, 47 civilian injuries and $12.9 million in direct property damage.
In addition, nearly half of decoration fires in homes occurred because the decorations were too close to a heat source. Forty-one percent of these incidents were started by candles; one-fifth began in the living room, family room or den.
The Sparky the Fire Dog website features tip sheets, kids’ activities, an e-card and a Sparky pumpkin-carving template. For parents and teachers, NFPA also created a simple Halloween fire safety tip graphic.
NFPA has provided these safety tips to keep everyone safe this Halloween, including:
l When choosing a costume, stay away from billowing or 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 clearly see out of them.
l Provide children with flashlights to carry for lighting or glow sticks as part of their costume.
l Dried flowers, cornstalks and crepe paper are highly flammable. Keep these and other decorations well away from all open flames and heat sources, including light bulbs and heaters.
l It is safest to use a glow stick or battery-operated candle 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. If you choose to use candle decorations, make sure to keep them well attended at all times.
l Remember to keep exits clear of decorations, so nothing blocks escape routes.
The NFPA is a worldwide leader in fire, electrical, building and life safety. The mission of the international nonprofit organization founded in 1896 is to reduce the worldwide burden of fire and other hazards on the quality of life by providing and advocating consensus codes and standards, research, training, and education.