This evening is Halloween, and that means candy, costumes, and jack-o-lanterns. Along with Halloween comes an array of potential fire hazards. Pumpkins, decorations, and billowing costumes can all cause potential fire safety issues. It is always best to take precautions when decorating, setting up candles, etc. According to Lorraine Carli, the National Fire Protection Association Vice President of Communications, candle fires are the leading cause of United States home fires.

There was an annual average of 15,260 home structure fires from 2003-2007 caused by candles. These caused an annual average of 166 deaths, 1,289 injuries, and $450 million in property damage. Four percent of reported home fires were caused by candles. Halloween is, unsurprisingly, one of the top five days for candle fires. Along with candles come all the decorations that are placed around the home as well (many of them flammable). From 2003-2007, decorations were the first items in the home ignited, in an estimated 1,240 home fires per year, with 7 deaths, 53 injuries, and $20 million in property damage annually. The following are some tips to stay safe this halloween:

  • Try to avoid costumes that are flowing, with a lot of fabric. These can easily end up catching fire, and you may not realize before it’s too late. Choose a costume with material that would not easily catch fire. Make sure your child’s mask has eye holes so that they can see out of it easily.

  • Keep any highly flammable decorations away from flames or heat sources. Such heat sources include heaters and light bulbs.

  • It’s best to use something battery-operated in a jack-o-lantern, like a flashlight. If you must use a real candle, use extreme caution. Make sure it is well attended, and children in the vicinity are aware of the potential dangers of knocking it over. Make sure such jack-o-lanterns are placed away from anything that can burn, and are not placed on any walkways or doorsteps where trick-or-treaters may not see them and accidentally knock them over.

  • Candle decorations should be attended at ALL TIMES.

  • Keep exits clear of any decorations. Nothing should obstruct them, lest there be a fire and escape routes are blocked.

  • Make sure your children are aware of fire safety procedures, including how to stop, drop, and roll.

  • It is best to use lights and not candles to light walkways and paths, making it much safer for pedestrians to walk without worrying about knocking over a flame and causing a fire.

Halloween can be as enjoyable as any other holiday. However, like any other holiday, there are many potential fire hazards. Following this list can definitely help mitigate any potential problems and can lead to an enjoyable holiday for all. Happy Halloween!