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Spooky and scary can be safe, too: Tips for a fun and safe Halloween

Are you ready for the tricks and treats of Halloween? We hope your All Hallows’ Eve is filled with spooks and spirits. Before you embark on your ghostly adventure let’s make sure you’re taking proper safety precautions. Fire hazards pose a significant risk on Halloween. In fact, 10,300 fires were reported in the United States during the three day period around Halloween from 2011 to 2013. Taking fire safety precautions with your costumes, decorations, and candles can make a difference this Halloween. By following these guidelines you can increase the safety and fun of your night of trick or treating:

Costume Safety

There’s no reason a costume can’t be spooky and safe. By avoiding costumes that are baggy or have long trains you can reduce the likelihood of the costume coming in contact with an open flame or accidentally tripping on it. Also, remember that if you are wearing a homemade mask, the eye holes should be large enough to see where you’re going.

  • To further maximize safety precautions, consider wearing flame-resistant fabrics, like nylon or polyester. These fabrics can be identified by a tag marking them “Flame Resistant.” If ignited, these materials are slow to burn and can give the wearer ample time to remove the costume before burning themselves.

Decoration Safety

We hope you can make your home as scary as possible, but make sure you’re decorating safely. Decorations ignite first, according to statistics from 2009-2012. These statistics show that approximately 860 residential fires every year are a result of decorations catching fire. The study also shows that candles ignited 41 percent of those decorations that caught fire.

There are several ways to keep your haunted house safe this Halloween:

  • Be sure to clear pathways and exits of all decorations in the event of an emergency.
  • Substitute candles for battery-operated lights or glow sticks to protect your home and your jack-o-lanterns. You could also opt for a completely flameless pumpkin. However, if you use a candle remember that flammable objects should maintain a 12-inch radius from an open flame.
  • Never leave a flame unattended, and if you leave the room don’t forget to blow out any lit candles.
  • If you plan on using electric decorations be mindful of their wattage. Check the cord’s wattage rating, as you may need a heavy duty extension cord with adequate power to safely power decorations like fog machines or inflatable decorations. Also, make sure wires aren’t frayed and check that sockets are in good condition.
  • Use plastic hooks or clips to hang lights and reduce the risk of fire or electric shock. These are safe alternative to nails or staples.
  • Check for the UL mark on light strings, extension cords, and electrical decorations. The UL mark says that the product is free of foreseeable hazards. A green UL mark signifies that it is approved for indoor use only. A red UL mark approves the product for indoor and outdoor use.

To protect yourself and your family from harm this Halloween, make sure any decorations and costumes you use are fire safe.


Robert Simon is ACC’s VP of the Chemical Products and Technology Division and is with the North American Flame Retardant Alliance. 

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