Fire Marshal Shares Tips For A Safe Halloween

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By Mike Winters
Payson Fire Marshal

Planning ahead can help make this Halloween a fire-safe one.
Taking simple fire safety precautions, like making sure fabrics for costumes and decorative materials are flame-resistant, can prevent fires.

Facts and figures

• During 1999, decorations for special events accounted for an estimated 1,000 home fires, most often involving candles, and causing five civilian deaths and $10.7 million in direct property damage.

Safety tips

  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Use extreme caution when decorating with candles, 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 all combustible items. Pumpkins can also be illuminated with small, inexpensive flashlights.
  • 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.
  • 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, cover your face with your hands, and roll over and over to extinguish flames.)
  • Instruct children who are attending parties at others' homes to locate the exits and plan how they would get out in an emergency.
  • Provide children with lightweight flashlights to carry for lighting or as part of their costumes.
  • Make your costume nice and bright so drivers can see you -- use retro reflective tape (when light hits the tape it bounces back), use a glow stick or carry a flashlight.
  • Follow the rules of the road. When crossing the street, stop at the curb or edge of the road. Look left, then right, then left again for moving cars before crossing. Kids 10 years old and younger should cross the street with a grown-up.
  • Make sure a grown-up goes with children when trick-or-treating.
  • Lastly, have grown-ups check your candy before you eat it (and don't forget to brush your teeth afterward)!

Source: National Fire Protection Association

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