As Halloween Activities Shift in Response to COVID-19, NFPA Emphasizes Caution around Home Decorating, including Candles and Electrical Lighting

The realities of COVID-19 are pushing households to find creative ways to celebrate Halloween this year.

With trick-or-treating and Halloween parties being less of an option, it's likely that more home decorating, pumpkin carving and use of jack-o-lanterns will occur this year, which may include increased use of candles and electrical lighting.

With these considerations in mind, NFPA is reminding everyone to make fire safety a priority when celebrating the holiday.

Candles are among the leading causes of U.S. home fires. According to NFPA's latest U.S. Home Candle Fires report, an annual average of 7,610 home fires are started by candles, resulting in 81 deaths, 677 injuries and $278 million in direct property damage. In addition, an average of 770 home fires started when decorations ignited. These fires caused an average of two civilian deaths, 20 civilian injuries, and $11.1 million in direct property damage per year.

NFPA shares these considerations to make sure that the only scary thing about Halloween this year is a horror movie marathon:

  • Use a battery-operated candle or glow stick in jack-o-lanterns.
  • Dried flowers, cornstalks, and crepe paper catch fire easily. Keep all decorations away from open flames and other heat sources like light bulbs and heaters.
  • When using electrical lighting to decorate your home, make sure it is used in accordance with the manufacturer's instructions. Some lights are only for indoor or outdoor use, but not both.
  • Use clips, not nails, to hang lights so the cords do not get damaged.
  • Remember to keep exits clear of decorations so nothing blocks escape routes. Make sure all smoke alarms are working.

For families still planning to attend Halloween parties or go trick-or-treating:

  • When choosing costumes, stay away from long trailing fabric that could come in contact with open flames or other heat sources.
  • Teach children to stay away from open flames, including jack-o-lanterns with candles in them.
  • Provide children with flashlights to carry for lighting or glow sticks as part of their costumes.

For more resources on how to keep the festivities from turning frightful, visit the NFPA Halloween safety page. Include kids in fire safety with age-appropriate activities that can be found on NFPA's Sparky the Fire Dog homepage.

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James Monahan
James Monahan
Public Affairs Intern

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