LIFESTYLE

NFPA tips for safe Halloween

Staff Writer
Gonzales Weekly Citizen

With Halloween just around the corner, children will soon be out in costume trekking through festive displays in search of candy. However, more than ghosts could be lurking amongst the mid-fall fun, as Halloween costumes and decorations present a number of hidden fire hazards. Fortunately, by following some simple safety precautions from the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), you can ensure a day of safe fun for your family and trick-or-treaters.

“Halloween has become such a festive time of year and we want people to enjoy decorating their homes, wearing colorful costumes and getting in the fall spirit,” said Lorraine Carli, NFPA’s Vice President of Outreach and Advocacy, “but this holiday can quickly turn hazardous if proper precautions aren’t taken.” According to Carli, fire risks include candle decorations and billowing costumes with long-trailing fabric.

NFPA’s most recent statistics show that decorations were the first item to be ignited in an average of 860 reported home structure fires per year from 2009-2013, causing an estimated average of one civilian death, 41 civilian injuries and $13.4 million in direct property damage. Nearly half of all decoration fires in homes are the result of decorations being too close to a heat source. Thirty-eight percent were started by candles and one-sixth began in the living room, family room or den.

Improve the safety of your Halloween by following these tips from NFPA:

Costumes: 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.

Visibility: Provide children with flashlights to carry for lighting or glow sticks as part of their costumes. If your child is wearing a mask, make sure the eye holes are large enough so he/she can see clearly out of it.

Flammable decorations: 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.

Candles/jack-o-lanterns: 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. Do not leave them near flammable objects or where trick-or-treaters may walk. Remind your children to avoid open flames. Make sure children are watched at all times when candles are lit.

Exits: Remember to keep exits clear of decorations, so nothing blocks escape routes.