Halloween is right around the corner. And although everyone is excited about dressing up as someone or something else and eating way too much candy, the Fairfax County Fire and Rescue Department is encouraging residents to be safe in their Halloween celebrations.
According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), 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.
“Just about everyone loves a good scare on Halloween, but not when it comes to safety,” said Lorraine Carli, NFPA’s vice president of Outreach and Advocacy, in a recent news release. “Costumes with billowing or long trailing fabric and candle decorations should be avoided to keep fun events from turning into tragedies.”
According to the county fire department, traditional jack-o'-lanterns are a huge fire hazard. However, a better way to light up a jack-o'-lantern is to use a small string of blinking holiday lights with red and yellow bulbs or using a small, battery-powered candle.
Here are some Halloween safety tips for children provided by the Fairfax County Fire and Rescue Department:
- Make sure all costumes are flame retardant. Most commercial costumes are made of flame-retardant material and you should ask your fabric shop for flame-retardant material if you make your own costume.
- Make sure your children can see and be seen. Expand the eye holes in commercial masks to improve peripheral vision. Add reflective tape to costumes to make them more visible to motorists.
- Ensure that each trick-or-treater has a working flashlight.
- Tell the children to remove their masks and look both ways before they cross a street.
- Never let a group of children trick-or-treat alone. Adult supervision is a safety "must" during Halloween.
- Tell Kids to stay away from candles and jack-o'-lanterns that may be on steps and porches. Their costumes could catch fire if they get too close.
- Kids should never carry candles when they are trick-or-treating. Always use a flashlight, flameless candle, or light stick.
- Tell kids to let you know right away if they see other kids playing with matches or lighters.
- 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.