Fall is in the air, pumpkins are on porches, and massive amounts of candy are calling! Halloween is just around the corner, and your local and state fire officials want to make sure safety is kept in mind while celebrating this popular October holiday.
"Halloween is an exciting time, especially for kids, but precautions need to be taken to make sure that fun does not lead to fire danger," said State Fire Marshal Gary West.
One of the major culprits for holiday fires is candles. Halloween, according to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), is one of the top five calendar days for candle fires. NFPA statistics show that decorations are the item first ignited in more than 1,000 reported home fires each year. The Volunteer State has not been immune to the dangers unattended candles can cause; from 2009-2013, Tennessee fire departments responded to 464 structure fires that were started by candles. These fires resulted in 9 deaths, 28 injuries and $10.38 million in direct property damage.
"Using battery-operated candles to illuminate your Halloween pumpkins is a great alternative to candles," said West. "They can keep your celebrations festive, while also making them safer."
It is also important to stress fire safety in regard to haunted houses that may be operating in your area. Visit the Codes Enforcement section of the State Fire Marshal's website to learn more about the safety requirements for haunted houses operating in Tennessee (http://commerce.tn.gov/sfm/fpcesect.shtml).
Follow these important tips to ensure your Halloween is fire-safe:
When choosing a costume, stay away from billowing or long, trailing fabric. If you are making your own costume, choose material that won't easily ignite if it comes into contact with heat or flame. If your children wear masks, make sure eye holes are large enough to allow unobstructed views.
Dried flowers, cornstalks and crepe paper are highly flammable. Keep these and other decorations well away from all open flames and heat sources, including light bulbs and heaters.
It is safest to use a flashlight or battery-operated candles in a jack-o-lantern. If you use a flame candle, use extreme caution and keep them well attended at all times. When lighting candles inside jack-o-lanterns, use long fireplace matches or a long-nozzle candle lighter. Be sure to place lit pumpkins well away from anything that can burn and far enough out of the way of trick-or-treaters and such high-traffic areas as doorsteps, walkways and yards.
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.
Use flashlights or other battery-operated lights as alternatives to candles or torch lights when decorating walkways and yards. They are much safer for trick-or-treaters, whose costumes may brush against the lighting.
When attending a Halloween party, look for ways out of the home/venue and plan how you would get out in an emergency.
If you have a Halloween party, check for cigarettes under furniture cushions and in areas where people might have smoked, before you go to bed.
The State Fire Marshal's Office is a division of the Department of Commerce and Insurance, which works to protect consumers while ensuring fair competition for industries and professionals who do business in Tennessee. Visit our website at www.tn.gov/fire for more fire prevention tips. Follow us on Facebook, Twitter.