Stay safe on the spookiest day of the year

Published on October 12, 2011
NFPA’s tips on staying fire safe for the holiday

October 13, 2011 – It’s time again for the creepy decorations, falling leaves, endless costumes, and lit Jack-o-lanterns. As families across the country begin to prepare for what has become an increasingly popular holiday, the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) is reminding everyone to take a few simple safety precautions in order to ensure a fun, safe, and not too scary Halloween.

“It’s an exciting holiday especially for the kids but if precautions are not taken, scary things can happen,” said Lorraine Carli NFPA’s vice president of communications. “Candle decorations and flowing costumes create an extra risk of fire.” According to Carli, candle fires represent a leading cause of U.S. home fires and Halloween is one of the top five days for candle fires.

Send a Sparky e-card to celebrate the holiday.

Judy Comoletti, NFPA Division Manager of Public Education, talks about how planning ahead can help make this Halloween a fire-safe one.

NFPA offers the following safety tips to help keep horror from striking your home this season:

  • 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 see out.
  • Provide children with flashlights to carry for lighting or glow sticks as part of their costume.
  • 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 enough out of the way of 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.
  • 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.
  • Children should always go trick-or-treating with a responsible adult.
  • Remind children to stay together as a group and walk from house to house.
  • Review how to cross a street with your child. Look left, right and left again to be sure no cars are approaching before crossing the street.
  • Make a rule that children will not eat any treat until it has been brought home and examined by a grown-up.

About the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA)
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.  

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Contact: Lorraine Carli, Public Affairs Office: +1 617 984-7275                         

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