As families find creative ways to celebrate Halloween in response to COVID-19, the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) urges everyone to keep fire safety in mind, particularly when decorating with candles and electrical lighting.
“Because typical Halloween activities like trick-or-treating may be curtailed or even canceled in some communities, we suspect an even bigger focus on Halloween decorating in and around homes this year,” said Lorraine Carli, NFPA’s vice president of Outreach and Advocacy. “We urge everyone to carefully consider fire safety to ensure that celebrations remain festively spooky, not hazardous.”
Candles are among the leading causes of U.S. home fires, with an annual average of 7,610 fires resulting in 81 deaths, 677 injuries, and $278 million in direct property damage. In addition, an average of 770 home fires started when decorations ignited. These fires caused an average of two civilian deaths, 20 civilian injuries, and $11.1 million in direct property damage per year.
For a safe Halloween, follow these tips:
• Use a battery-operated candle or glow stick in jack-o-lanterns.
• Dried flowers, cornstalks, and crepe paper catch fire easily. Keep all decorations away from open flames and other heat sources like light bulbs and heaters.
• When using electrical lighting to decorate your home, make sure it is used in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions. Some lights are only for indoor or outdoor use, but not both.
• Use clips, not nails, to hang lights so the cords do not get damaged.
• Keep exits clear of decorations so nothing blocks escape routes. Make sure all smoke alarms are working.
For families still planning to attend Halloween parties or go trick-or-treating:
• When choosing costumes, stay away from long-trailing fabric that could come in contact with open flames or other heat sources.
• Teach children to stay away from open flames, including jack-o-lanterns with candles in them.
• Provide children with flashlights to carry for lighting or glow sticks as part of their costumes.
Visit the NFPA Halloween safety page for more resources of how to stay safe.