Practice fire safety this Halloween: Make sure potential fire hazards don’t spook the day
Halloween fire facts
- From 2014-2018, an average of 770 home structure fires began with decorations per year.
- More than two of every five (44 percent) of these fires occurred because the decorations were too close to a heat source, such as a candle or hot equipment.
- More than one-third (36 percent) of these fires were started by candles.
- More than one-fifth (22 percent) of the decoration fires started in the kitchen; 16 percent began in the living room.
Halloween is a fun, festive holiday for trick-or-treating, costume-wearing and creative home decorating, for kids and adults alike. These activities present potential fire hazards, however, so it’s important to keep safety in mind when preparing for the holiday. The International Code Council encourages everyone to keep fire safety in mind and to take simple safety precautions that can help ensure a safe, fire-free day.
Planning ahead can help make this Halloween a fire-safe one. To ensure that your loved ones and home are free of fire this Halloween season, follow these simple fire safety guidelines:
Decorations — Many common decorations like cornstalks, crepe paper and dried flowers are very flammable and catch fire easily. Keep these and similar decorations far away from any open flames or other heat sources, like candles, heaters and light bulbs.
Candles — Using candles as decoration can be risky if not done correctly. Refrain from having an open flame, but if you must use live flame candles, keep them in a well-attended area out of the path of potential trick-or-treaters. Remind children of the dangers of open flames, and make sure they are supervised at all times when candles are lit. Extinguish candles before leaving an area.
Smoke alarms — This is a great time to make sure your smoke alarms are working and up to date. Additionally, keep at least one fire extinguisher in a central location (near potential fire hazards such as fireplaces and furnaces) on each floor of your home in easy-to-grab spots, near exits.
Jack-o-lanterns — Glow sticks or battery-operated electric candles are the safest choices when it comes to lighting up your jack-o-lanterns, but if you choose to use a real candle, do so with extreme caution. When lighting candles inside jack-o-lanterns use long fireplace-style matches or a utility lighter and keep it away from other decorations. Teach children to stay away from jack-o-lanterns with open-flame candles. Be sure to place lit pumpkins well away from anything that can burn and far enough out of the way of trick-or-treaters, doorsteps, walkways and yards.
Costumes — When choosing costumes, avoid billowing, flowing or long-trailing fabric, as these can easily ignite. If you are making your own costume, avoid loosely woven fabrics like linen and cotton, which can be very flammable. If your child is wearing a mask, make sure the eye holes are large enough so he or she can see out and remain vigilant of extraneous costume pieces. Also, 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.)
Visibility — Provide children with flashlights to carry for lighting or glow sticks as part of their costume. Make sure that any costume masks have eye holes large enough for them to see clearly.
Exits — Exits are not an appropriate place for decorations. When decorating, remember to keep exits clear of decorations so nothing blocks escape routes. If you or your children are going to Halloween parties at others’ homes, look for ways out of the home and plan how to get out in an emergency.