Play it safe this Halloween by following fire safety tips from NFPA

October 22, 2013 – It’s the time of the year for festive costumes, endless candy, spooky jack-o-lanterns, and creepy decorations. The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) is reminding everyone to take a few simple precautions to keep Halloween safe and enjoyable.

“Just about everyone loves a good scare on Halloween, but not when it comes to safety,” said Lorraine Carli, NFPA’s vice president of Outreach and Advocacy. “Costumes with billowing or long trailing fabric and candle decorations should be avoided to keep fun events from turning into tragedies.”

From 2006-2010, decorations 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.

From 2006-2010, 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.


Video: NFPA's Lisa Braxton says planning ahead can help make this Halloween a fire-safe one. Taking simple fire safety precautions, like making sure fabrics for costumes and decorative materials are flame-resistant, can prevent fires.

NFPA provides safety tips 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. 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 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.

Send a Sparky e-card to celebrate the holiday.

Share a Sparky Be Safe Halloween Coloring Sheet with a child.

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. NFPA develops more than 300 codes and standards to minimize the possibility and effects of fire and other hazards. All NFPA codes and standards can be viewed at no cost at www.nfpa.org/freeaccess.

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

NFPA (National Fire Protection Association)
1 Batterymarch Park, Quincy, MA 02169-7471 USA
Telephone: +1 617 770-3000 Fax: +1 617 770-0700