The threat of COVID-19 this Halloween will mean more safeguards for area residents to keep in mind while celebrating tricks and treats. In addition to practicing fire safety the Columbia-Richland Fire Department also wants area residents to take steps during their Halloween celebrations to stay protected from the virus.
“Make no mistake about it many months have passed but the dangers of COVID-19 are still out there,” said Columbia-Richland Fire Chief Aubrey D. Jenkins, “For that reason we are STRONGLY encouraging all citizens to obey the protective mask ordinances that remain in place for the City of Columbia as well as Richland County. We also want to encourage our citizens to celebrate Halloween in ways that will not foster the spread of this deadly virus.”
Due to COVID-19 the City of Columbia is encouraging citizens to avoid large gatherings and also take added safety precautions:
- Avoid large gatherings, festivals and door-to-door trick or treating as it can become difficult to maintain proper social distancing and ensure proper mask usage from all participants
- If you do decide to celebrate make sure to follow proper COVID-19 precautions!
- According to South Carolina DHEC drive-through events, one directional haunted tails, outdoor pumpkin patches and creative methods for handing out candy can be safe alternatives for celebrating!
- If you do trick-or-treat, wear a protective mask and stay at least 6 feet away from others
- ONLY use pre-packaged candy!
- Don’t use a costume mask as a substitute for a cloth mask unless it’s made of at least two or more layers of breathable fabric that covers your mouth and nose and doesn’t leave gaps around your face.
- DO NOT wear a protective mask and a costume mask as this can make it difficult to breathe
- For further information on Halloween during the COVID-19 Pandemic visit cdc.gov!
Also here are some fire safety precautions to keep in mind:
- When choosing a costume, stay away from long trailing fabric. If your child is wearing a mask, make sure the eye holes are large enough so he or she can see out.
- Provide children with flashlights to carry for lighting or glow sticks as part of their costume.
- Dried flowers, cornstalks and crepe paper catch fire easily. Keep all decorations away from open flames and other heat sources like light bulbs and heaters.
- Use a battery-operated candle or glow-stick in jack-o-lanterns. If you use a real candle, use extreme caution. Make sure children are watched at all times when candles are lit. When lighting candles inside jack-o-lanterns, use long, fireplace-style matches or a utility lighter. Be sure to place lit pumpkins well away from anything that can burn and far enough out of the way of trick-or-treaters, doorsteps, walkways and yards.
- Remember to keep exits clear of decorations, so nothing blocks escape routes.
- Make sure all smoke alarms in the home are working.
- Tell children to stay away from open flames including jack-o-lanterns with candles in them. Be sure they know how to stop, drop and roll if their clothing catches fire. (Have them practice, stopping immediately, dropping to the ground, covering their face with hands, and rolling over and over to put the flames out.)
- Extinguish candles by taking away oxygen from the wick. You can use a candle snuffer to extinguish your candles or other non-combustible materials. Avoid the use of candles in the bedroom and other areas where people may fall asleep.
- Keep candles at least 1 foot (30 centimeters) away from anything that can burn.
- Use candle holders that are sturdy, and won’t tip over easily.
- Put candle holders on a sturdy, uncluttered surface.
- Light candles carefully. Keep your hair and any loose clothing away from the flame.
- Don’t burn a candle all the way down — put it out before it gets too close to the holder or container.
- Never use a candle if oxygen is used in the home.
- Have flashlights and battery-powered lighting ready to use during a power outage. Never use candles.
Finally, NEVER ever leave a child alone in a room with a burning candle! Keep matches and lighters up high and out of children’s reach, in a locked cabinet.
The Columbia-Richland Fire Department hopes that everyone has a scary yet safe 2020 Halloween!