(October 29, 2013) Taking simple fire safety precautions, like making sure fabrics for costumes and decorative materials are flame-resistant, can help prevent fires. 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.
Also 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.
Stay safe this Halloween with these safety tips from the National Fire Protection Association.
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.