It’s the time of the year for festive costumes, endless candy, spooky jack-o-lanterns, and creepy decorations. The National Fire Protection Association is reminding everyone to take a few simple precautions to keep Halloween safe and enjoyable.
Though candles — a Halloween staple — can create a spooky atmosphere, they’re also dangerous. Between 2006 and 2010, U. S. fire departments responded to an estimated 11,640 home structure fires that were started by candles. These fires caused 126 deaths, 953 injuries, and $438 million in direct property damage.
Flammable Halloween decorations are a also a concern. Between 2006 and 2010 were the first item ignited in an estimated average of 1,000 reported home structure fires per year, resulting in an average six civilian deaths, 53 civilian injuries and $16 million in direct property damage.
Here are some safety tips from the NFPA to keep everyone safe this Halloween:
• 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.
• 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.
• 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 away from trick-or-treaters, doorsteps, walkways, and yards.
• If you choose to use candle decorations, make sure to keep them well attended at all times.
• Remember to keep exits clear of decorations, so nothing blocks escape routes.
• Tell children to stay away from open flames. Be sure they know how to stop, drop and roll if their clothing catches fire. (Have them practice stopping immediately, dropping to the ground, covering their face with hands, and rolling over and over to put the flames out.)
• Use flashlights as alternatives to candles or torch lights when decorating walkways and yards. They are much safer for trick-or-treaters, whose costumes may brush against the lighting.