As Halloween creeps closer, the National Fire Protection Association reminds the public fire safety hazards often lurk among spooky decorations and festivities. With these potential risks in mind, the association encourages everyone to take simple precautions to ensure a festively fun, safe holiday.
According to NFPA data, candles accounted for an annual average of 7,400 home fires, resulting in 90 deaths, 670 injuries and $291 million in direct property damage between 2015 and 2019. In addition, an annual average of 790 home structure fires began with decorations, causing one civilian fire death, 26 civilian fire injuries, and $13 million in direct property damage; more than two of every five (44 percent) of these fires occurred when decorations were placed too close to a heat source, such as a candle or hot equipment.
The NFPA offers these tips and guidelines for enjoying a fire-free Halloween:
- Decorations: Many common decorations like cornstalks, crepe paper and dried flowers are very flammable. Keep these and similar decorations far away from any open flames or heat sources, like candles, heaters and light bulbs.
- Candles: Using candles as decoration may be risky if not done correctly. 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 always supervised when candles are lit. Always extinguish candles before leaving an area.
- Jack-o-lanterns: Glow sticks or electric candles are the safest choice when it comes to lighting up your jack-o-lantern, but if you choose to use a real candle, do so with extreme caution. Light a candle inside a jack-o-lantern using long fireplace matches or a utility lighter and keep it away from other decorations.
- Costumes: Avoid fabric that billows or trails behind you, as these can easily ignite. If you make your own costume, avoid loosely woven fabrics like linen and cotton, which may be very flammable.
- Visibility: Give children flashlights or glowsticks for lighting, since these may be incorporated into the costume. If your child has a mask, ensure eye holes are large enough for them to see clearly.
- Smoke Alarms: This is a great time to make sure your smoke alarms are in working order.
- Exits: Exits are not an appropriate place for decorations. When decorating, ensure nothing is blocking escape routes, including doors and windows.
For more Halloween fire safety for kids and families, visit www.sparkyschoolhouse.org or www.sparky.org.
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Kevin A. Canessa Jr. is the editor of and broadcaster at The Observer, a place where he has served on and off since 2006. He is responsible for the editorial content of the newspaper and website, the production of the e-Newspaper, writing several stories per week (including the weekly editorial), conducting live broadcasts on Facebook Live, including a weekly recap of the news — and much more behind the scenes. Between 2006 and 2008, he introduced the newspaper to its first-ever blog — which included podcasts, audio and video. Originally from Jersey City, Kevin lived in Kearny until 2004, lived in Port St. Lucie. Florida, for four years until February 2016 and in March of that year, he moved back to West Hudson to return to The Observer full time. Click Here to send Kevin an email.