With Halloween festivities in full swing, the Tennessee State Fire Marshal’s Office (SFMO) encourages Tennesseans to keep safety in mind in order to avoid the fire risks commonly linked to Halloween decorations and activities.
“A few simple safety measures can help keep your Halloween celebration plans both fun and fire-free,” said State Fire Marshal and Commerce & Insurance Commissioner Julie Mix McPeak. “Candles are a major culprit for holiday fires, so we urge Tennesseans to use extra caution if using open flames around fall decorations and Halloween costumes.”
According to data from the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), decorations are the first thing to ignite in 900 reported home fires each year. Two of every five of these fires were started by a candle.
The SFMO offers the following guidelines to help the public avoid Halloween fire hazards:
- 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-nozzled 15 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.
- When visiting a haunted house, always be aware of your surroundings and on the lookout for safety features that can make the difference during an emergency.
The Tennessee State Fire Marshal’s Office encourages Tennesseans to have working smoke alarms installed in their homes and to develop and practice a home fire escape plan with two ways out of every room and a designated outside meeting place.
For more information on how to protect your family from fire, visit www.tn.gov/fire.