State Fire Marshal Urges Be Halloween Safe Costumes, Candles and Jack-O-Lanterns Pose Increased Fire Risk

Contact: Mario L. Morrow 517-373-9280
Agency: Licensing and Regulatory Affairs

October 21, 2010. State Fire Marshal Ronald R. Farr today encourages families to take extra safety precautions to reduce fire risk and avoid burn injuries during Halloween where hidden dangers also come in disguise.

"On Halloween there's a significant increase in home fires and burn-related injuries most commonly caused by candles igniting costumes and decorations," said Farr. "Make sure the costumes are flame-resistant and will not ignite easily. When decorating inside or outside the home, do it safely, and have working smoke alarms."

Halloween is the fifth highest day of the year for candle fires according to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA). For safety sake, choose alternatives to burning candles by using flashlights, battery-operated candles or electric lights. Use flashlights in pumpkins rather than candles and keep holiday decorations, such as dried cornstalks, away from heat and open flames.

"Decorations are the first thing to ignite in more than 1,000 reported home fires each year on Halloween and more than half are started by candles," said Farr.

Keep children away from candles and open flames, and never leave burning candles or jack-o-lanterns with lit candles unattended. Use flashlights when trick or treating; never carry lit candles, jack-o-lanterns, high heat or flaming decorations which could easily ignite costumes.

Each year, firefighters and paramedics deal with an increasing number of incidents on Halloween that can easily be prevented. Here are some tips to avoid frightful fire hazards: 

  • Buy only costumes, fabric and accessories labeled flame-resistant or flame-retardant made with material that won't easily ignite if exposed to heat or flame and will extinguish more readily. 
  • Avoid baggy, billowing or oversized costumes that are dangerous around lit candles or open flames. 
  • Avoid masks and over-the-head costumes which can impede vision or make removal difficult in the event of fire; use face paint or make-up instead. 
  • Teach children to "Stop, Drop and Roll" if their clothing catches fire to smother spreading flames. 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 only decorative lights that have been tested and certified for safety. Check lights, new or old, for broken or cracked sockets, frayed or bare wires, or loose connections. Discard damaged sets. 
  • Don't overload electrical outlets or extension cords with holiday lighting or special effects. 
  • Make sure to have working smoke alarms in the home and set up a home fire escape route. 
  • Remember to keep exits clear of decorations, ensuring nothing blocks escape routes.

Also, keeping children safe while trick-or-treating is one of greatest concerns to Fire/EMS department personnel. Parents should warn their children not to eat any of their treats before they get home. All candy should be inspected to assure that it is safely sealed and has not been tampered with. Fruit should be sliced into small pieces and checked for foreign objects. Keep small pieces of candy away from infants and very small children, as they can easily become lodged in the throat and cause choking.

The Bureau of Fire Services wishes all a happy, fire-safe Halloween. Visit the Bureau of Fire Services website at more fire safety information.

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