State Fire Marshal Urges a Fire-Safe Halloween; Costumes, Candles and Jack-O-Lanterns Greatest Fire Risk

Contact: Melanie Brown 517-373-9280
Agency: Licensing and Regulatory Affairs

October 30, 2013 - State Fire Marshal Richard Miller today encourages families to take a few simple safety precautions to reduce fire risk and avoid burn injuries during Halloween festivities. 

“On Halloween especially, we see an increase in home fires and burn-related injuries,” said Miller. “The most common cause of fires are unattended candles used in homes or in jack-o-lanterns igniting costumes and decorations. When it comes to candles, handle them with care. Candles are easily knocked over by a pet, guest or child.  Keep a fire extinguisher readily available, filled and ready for operation.  And of course, have working smoke alarms in the home.”

Halloween is the fifth highest day of the year for candle fires according to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA).  For safety sake, choose alternatives to burning candles by using flashlights, battery-operated candles or electric lights.  Use flashlights in pumpkins rather than candles and keep holiday decorations, such as dried cornstalks, away from heat and open flames.

“Decorations are the first thing to ignite in more than 1,000 reported home fires each year on Halloween and more than half are started by candles,” said Miller.  “Everyone expects Halloween to be scary, but not when it comes to fire.”

Here are important fire safety tips for kids, parents and around the home:

  • Make sure the costume is bright and labeled flame-resistant or flame-retardant.  Use reflective tape as part of the costume.
  • Avoid costumes with billowing or long trailing fabric that can catch fire around candles.
  • Instead of a mask, choose non-toxic face paint and makeup so the child’s vision is not obstructed.
  • Kids should always stay with an adult; never enter a stranger’s house; and stay clear of lit candles and open flames. 
  • Make sure the kids know how to “stop, drop and roll” in case their costume catches fire.
  • Check the candy before kids eat it. Look for signs of tampering. Fruit should be sliced into small pieces and checked for foreign objects. If in doubt, throw it out.
  • Use only decorative lights that have been tested and certified for safety. Check lights, new or old, for broken or cracked sockets, frayed or bare wires, or loose connections. Discard damaged sets.
  • Don’t overload electrical outlets or extension cords with holiday lighting or special effects.  
  • Have working smoke alarms in the home and set up a home fire escape route.
  • Keep exits clear of decorations, so nothing blocks escape routes.

The Bureau of Fire Services wishes all a happy, fire-safe Halloween. Visit the Bureau of Fire Services website at www.michigan.gov/bfs for more fire safety information.

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