Hidden Dangers Also Come in Disguise during Halloween Season
By Paul Netter
Southern California Edison
Former First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt famously said it is better to light a candle than curse the darkness.
This Halloween season, it is even better — and much safer — if those candles are flameless since nearly 40 percent of the 860 home decoration fires (excluding Christmas trees) annually begin with candles , according to the National Fire Protection Association.
What’s more, each year between 2011-13 during the three-day period around Halloween, there were an estimated 10,300 fires in the country that caused 25 deaths, 125 injuries and $83 million in property loss, according to the National Fire Incident Reporting System.
With spending on Halloween decorations, costumes and candy expected to reach an 11-year high, simple precautions are encouraged to help ensure a safe Halloween season while installing and maintaining your decorations and buying costumes.
Here are some Halloween safety tips:
“You should always choose decorations and costumes with safety in mind,” said Paul Jeske, SCE’s director of Corporate Health and Safety. “Smart and careful placement and maintenance of decorations and thoughtful costume selections using flame-resistant, flame-retardant or non-combustible materials are the best approach to a fun and safe Halloween.”
- Love decorating with candles? Instead of lit candles, use battery-operated, flameless candles in jack-o’-lanterns and inside and outside the home. On an average day, candles cause 25 fires , according to the National Candle Association. But Halloween — trailing only Christmas Day, Christmas Eve and New Year’s Day — is the fourth-highest day for candle fires. Flameless candles are simply safer since overall nearly 10,000 home fires annually start with burning candles.
- While decorating, always look up and look out for power lines and never throw light strands or electrical cords into trees or vegetation near power lines or place them on utility poles.
- Before decorating, carefully inspect electrical items and cords and discard any with damaged wires or broken bulbs. And, only use decorations that bear the labels of trusted independent safety organizations like Underwriters Laboratories (UL0, Intertek or CSA).
- Extension cords should not be overloaded, either. Use no more than three strands of lights per extension cord ( follow the manufacturer’s instructions ). Ground Fault Circuit Interrupters also should be used wherever water might come into contact with electrical items.
- Also, check the Consumer Product Safety Commission’s website for Halloween-related product recalls.