Many hallmarks of Halloween – lit jack-o-lanterns, candle decorations and billowing costumes – pose fire safety hazards.
As children and families select costumes and decorate their homes, the Pasadena Fire Department encourages everyone to implement simple safety precautions to ensure that this year’s festivities are fun and fire-free.
Halloween is one of the top five days when candles are used. According to the National Fire Protection Association, From 2003 to 2007 an annual average of 15,260 home structure fires were started by candles, causing 166 deaths, 1,289 injuries and $450 million in direct property damage. Overall, candles caused four percent of reported home fires, six percent of home fire deaths, 10 percent of home fire injuries and seven percent of direct property damage in reported home fires during this period.
Here are tips for keeping your family, home and all trick-or-treaters safe from fire this Halloween:
* When choosing a costume, stay away from billowing or long, trailing fabric. If you are making your own costume, choose material that won’t ignite easily if it comes into contact with heat or flame. If your children are wearing masks, make sure the eye holes are large enough so they can see out.
* Provide children with flashlights or glow sticks to carry as part of their costumes.
*Dried flowers, cornstalks and crepe paper are highly flammable. Keep these and other decorations well away from open flames and heat sources, including light bulbs and heaters.
* It is safest to use flashlights or battery-operated candles in jack-o-lanterns. If you use real candles, 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 utility lighters. 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.
* If you choose to use candle decorations, be 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 faces with their hands, and rolling over and over to put out the flames.)
*Use flashlights as alternatives to candles and torch lights when decorating walkways and yards. They are much safer for trick-or-treaters whose costumes may brush against the lighting.
* If your children are going to Halloween parties at others’ homes, have them look for ways out of the home and plan how they would get out in an emergency.
* Make sure children go trick-or-treating with responsible adults.
* Remind children to stay together as a group and walk from house to house.
* Review how to cross a street with your children. Look left, right, and left again to be sure no cars are approaching before crossing the street.
* Make a rule that children will not eat any treat until it has been brought home and examined by a grown-up.
For more information, call the Pasadena Fire Department at (626) 744-7177.