Focusing on Halloween safety

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Many hallmarks of Halloween -- lit jack-o-lanterns, candle decorations and billowing costumes -- all pose fire safety hazards. As kids and families select costumes and decorate their homes for the season, the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) encourages everyone to implement simple safety precautions.

Candle fires represent a leading cause of U.S. home fires. An annual average of 16,250 home structure fires are started by candles, causing 175 fire deaths, 1,400 injuries and $450 million in direct property damage. Halloween is one of the top five days for candle fires.

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.

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 way trick-or-treaters, doorsteps, walkways and yards.

Tell children to stay away from open flames. Be sure they know how to stop, drop and roll if their clothing catches fire.

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.

Have a happy and safe Halloween!