Scare Tactic? Halloween Fires are Real Danger

The National Fire Protection Association has issued its Halloween fire safety alert in plenty of time for parents and youngsters to pay heed. Lorraine Carli, the association's vice president of Communications, said three tips should be top-of-mind Oct. 31: Avoid potentially flamable Halloween costumes, use alternatives to candles whenever possible, and make children aware of fire safety.

NFPA says Halloween is the fifth-highest day of the year for candle fires, trailing only Christmas, Christmas Eve, New Year's Day, and New Year's Eve -- meaning the next 11 weeks are particularly dangerous for such fires. The group issued these Halloween reminders:

1. 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.

2. 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.

3. Use flashlights when illuminating jack-o-lanterns. Use extreme caution when decorating with candlelit 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.

4. Remember to keep exits clear of decorations, ensuring nothing blocks escape routes.

5. Use flashlights 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.

6. Instruct children to stay away from open flames or other heat sources. Be sure children know how to stop, drop, and roll if their clothing catches fire.

7. Instruct children who are attending parties at others' homes to locate the exits and plan how they would get out in an emergency.

8. Provide children with lightweight flashlights to carry for lighting or as part of their costume.

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