Halloween is in the air, and for all the fun it brings – candy, costumes, parties and pumpkins – it also brings a bit of danger, the kind of which is not found in haunted houses or horror movies. The danger is found in jack-o’-lanterns, wax candles, zany lights and other holiday decorations that can lead to fires.
Consumers can protect themselves against such danger by taking precautions when turning their homes and yards into spook-filled scenes. The first step is to use flameless tea lights to make that carved, orange gourd come alive and replace wax candles with electric ones that look just as real. Doing so will cut in half the risk of an accidental fire breaking out, according to the National Fire Protection Association.
“Nearly half of decoration fires in homes occurred because the decorations were too close to a heat source,” the NFPA reports, noting the ensuing property damage amounts to $13 million annually.
Statistics show that, of the estimated 900 structure fires reported each year to be caused by decorations, 41 percent involved candles. Parents should warn their trick-or-treating children to steer clear of open flames and know how to “stop, drop and roll” if a costume catches on fire.
Here are some other tips to ensure a safer Halloween:
Use flashlights instead of torches to light up driveways and walkways. That eliminates the possibility of costumes coming into contact with flames or grass fires being ignited by gusty winds.
Consider that cornstalks, hay bales and paper – all materials commonly used for decorating – are highly flammable and should be kept away from flames and heat sources, including lights.
If decorating with lights, check to see whether bulbs are broken or cracked and cords are frayed or worn and replace immediately if damage is detected.
Inspect the site of any Halloween party before letting children attend to see whether it is hazardous and if there is a quick way to evacuate the premises if a fire occurs.
Children ideally should wear flame-retardant costumes and avoid billowing clothing – although that will be difficult for little ghosts in white sheets and aspiring superheroes in colorful capes.
The Consumer Product Safety Commission also has advice regarding costumes.
“When purchasing a costume, masks, beards, and wigs, look for the label Flame Resistant,” states a safety alert. “Although this label does not mean these items won’t catch fire, it does indicate the items will resist burning and should extinguish quickly once removed from the ignition source.”