It’s a scary time of the year in Southern California — not just because Halloween’s night of fright is less than a week away, but because fire season is bearing down upon us. Last year’s wildfires were the most destructive in California history, and officials fear this one could be even worse. In the past two weeks alone, Los Angeles County residents have had to contend with the Saddleridge and Palisades fires, and now the Tick fire in Santa Clarita. Just yesterday afternoon a fire flared through the dry underbrush of the Sepulveda Basin. Stoked by high winds, it burned 60 acres before crews thankfully got it under control.
All of this means that fire safety has got to be at the forefront of everyone’s minds this Halloween. Open flames put the lives of thousands at risk, and no one wants to find themselves responsible for their neighbors’ worst nightmares. With red flag conditions as bad as they are, remember… all it takes is one ember.
With that in mind, we wanted to share some important Halloween fire safety tips.
- Only dress your kids in costumes made of flame resistant or flame retardant material, and avoid any with long, flowy fabric. Sure, that caped crusader meets fireman look might be cute, if a little meta for our tastes, but is it also non-flammable?
- Remind children that they should always stay away from open flames. Yes, this includes any jack-o-lanterns with candles in them. We know they’re fun to look at, but look with your eyes… not with your hands.
- Make sure your kids know how to stop, drop and roll in case their clothing catches fire. If it helps, look to your dog Sparky for a demonstration (but only if puppy-safe treats are involved.)
- Some of your favorite spooky decorations are potential fire hazards. Dried flowers, cornstalks, and crepe paper can all easily ignite. Keep all decorations away from open flames and other heat sources, including light bulbs and heaters. And maybe skip the hay bales this year?
- We know jack-o-lanterns are a mainstay of halloween, and as tempting and satisfying as it is to see your ghastly gourd flickering with flames, it’s not worth the risk in these dry windy conditions. The safe route is to light your creepy creations with either a flashlight or a battery-operated candle.
- If you plan to welcome trick-or-treaters to your tower of terror, make sure that they have a clearly illuminated path to your door. Don’t use open flames of any kind to mark the way. (Sorry, but you’ll have to forgo the tiki torches for your luau themed haunted house this year.)
- Decorations can block or obscure escape routes, and make it even harder to navigate through a smoke-filled home. Keep all exits clear of obstructions, and ensure all smoke alarms are fully functional.
When we were kids our parents would have thought nothing of lighting jack-o-lanterns with candles. Flame retardant costumes weren’t fully the norm, and the idea of thinking about Halloween as a time for fire hazards was the furthest thing from mind. (We still had the stranger danger and razorblade apples.) But times have changed, and so has our climate. It’s warmer and drier now, and precautions have to be taken. And that means putting serious thought into fire safety this season.
We know orange is one of the classic colors of Halloween tradition, but an open flame this year is not the way to display it.
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Check Out These References for Further Reading:
“Halloween Safety Tips from the Culver City Fire Department.” Culver City. Retrieved 25 October 2019.
“Halloween.” National Fire Protection Association. Retrieved 25 October 2019.
“Halloween Safety.” Consumer Product Safety Commission. Retrieved 25 October 2019.
“Halloween Safety On and Off the Road.” Retrieved 25 October 2019.