Be Safe and Have a Happy Halloween

Staff Writer
Gonzales Weekly Citizen

Halloween offers so much fun, but it does come with hidden fire dangers that can be truly scary. In a recent five year study, NFPA discovered that decorations were the first items to be ignited in an estimated average of 1,000 reported home structure fires per year. These fires caused per year average of 6 civilian deaths, 53 civilian injuries and $16 million in direct property damage. Nearly half of these decoration fires occurred because the decorations were too close to a heat source. 41% of these incidents were started by candles; and one-fifth began in the living room, family room, or den.

Fortunately, by following some simple safety precautions, you can ensure a day of safe fun for your family and trick-or-treaters.

Fire Marshal Butch Browning affirms these safety tips, provided by NFPA, 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 clearly see out of them.  Be sure they know how to stop, drop and roll if their clothing catches fire.

·         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.

·         Use flashlights or solar powered landscape lighting instead of candles or torches for decorating walkways and yards.  These alternatives are safer for trick-or-treaters, whose costumes may brush against the lighting.

·         It is safest to use a glow stick or battery-operated candle in a jack-o-lantern. If you use a real candle, use extreme caution. When lighting candles inside jack-o-lanterns, use long fireplace-style matches or a utility lighter. 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. If your or your children are attending a Halloween party, make note of all exits.  Always know two ways out.

For parents and educators, The Sparky the Fire Dog® website (www.sparky.org) features tip sheets, kids' activities, and other fun ways to learn and share the message of Halloween Safety.