The classic Halloween image is that of a broadly smiling Jack-O-Lantern, animated by a burning candle. But, reported home candle fires have tripled since their low in 1990. Two-fifths started in the bedroom, while the living room, family room, or den was the leading area of origin for candle fire deaths. Half of the home candle fires occurred after by some type of combustible was too close to the candle; an unattended or abandoned candle was a factor in 18% of these fires. Falling asleep was a factor in 12% of the incidents.
To avoid becoming a fire victim, use flashlights when illuminating Jack-O-Lanterns. Use extreme caution when decorating with candle lit Jack-O-Lanterns, and supervise children at all times when candles are lit. When lighting candles inside Jack-O-Lanterns, use long, fireplace-style matches and be sure to place lit pumpkins well away from anything that can burn including doorsteps, walkways and yards. 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, heaters, etc. The fake spider web material may also be flammable, but if purchased new, may now be found in nonflammable material.
Purchase only costumes, wigs and props labeled flame-resistant or flame-retardant. When creating a costume, choose material that won’t easily ignite if it comes in contact with heat or flame. Avoid billowing or long trailing features. Use flashlights as alternatives to candles or torch lights when decorating. They are much safer for trick-or-treaters, whose costumes may brush against the lighting.
Instruct children to stay away from open flames or other heat sources. Be sure children know how to stop, drop and roll in the event their clothing catches fire. (Stop immediately, drop to the ground, covering your face with your hands, and roll over and over to extinguish flames.) And instruct children who are attending parties at others’ homes or in public facilities to locate the exits and plan how they would get out in an emergency.
With a little common sense and an eye to the unexpected that can occur around open flames, you can enjoy your Halloween fun without fear.