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Fire department stressing safety to prevent ‘scary’ outcomes for Halloween

With Halloween Night creeping closer, Columbia Richland Fire is asking families to not only be thinking of costumes and candy but also the fire-related risks that the holiday can bring.

Specifically, those fire dangers are present with the increased use of candles and Halloween attire and decorations that can be highly flammable.

“The combination of open flames and certain decorative fabrics can be a recipe for disaster,” said Columbia-Richland Fire Chief Aubrey. D. Jenkins, “We encourage residents to use battery-operated lights for Halloween decorations whenever possible in place of candles. Making that simple substitution is one of the easiest ways to ensure your family’s Halloween doesn’t turn scary for real.”

According to the National Fire Protection Association decorations are the first thing to ignite in 800 reported home fires each year. More than one-third of these fires were started by a candle.

Here are some other safety tips to keep in mind to keep for your family during the Halloween season:

  • 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.)
  • If your children are going to Halloween parties at others’ homes, have them look for ways out of the home and plan how they would get out in an emergency.                                                                       

Also, here are some added points on candle use:

  • 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.