Halloween has become a hugely popular time for fun and festivities, but with it comes the potential for a variety of fire hazards, says the National Fire Protection Association in a press release. The NFPA encourages people to take precautions to stay safe without sacrificing fun.

“Halloween brings an opportunity to wear fun costumes, decorate our homes, and eat too much candy,” said Lorraine Carli, NFPA’s vice president of outreach and advocacy. “However, without proper safety precautions, we run the risk of turning good times into the wrong kind of scary ones.”

According to NFPA research, between 2012 and 2016, decorations were the item first ignited in an estimated average of 800 reported home structure fires per year, resulting in an average of two civilian deaths, 34 civilian injuries and $11 million in direct property damage.

A decoration was too close to a heat source, such as a candle or equipment, in almost half of these fires.

NFPA offers these tips to stay safe during the spooky season:

» Costumes: Avoid fabric that billows or trails behind you, as these can easily ignite. If you are making your own costume, avoid loosely woven fabrics like linen and cotton, which can be very flammable.

» Decorations: Many common decorations like cornstalks, crepe paper and dried flowers are very flammable. Keep these and similar decorations far away from any open flames or heat sources, like candles, heaters and light bulbs.

» Candles: Using candles as decoration can be risky if not done correctly. Keep them in a well-attended area out of the path of potential trick-or-treaters. Remind children of the dangers of open flames, and make sure they are supervised at all times when candles are lit. Extinguish candles before leaving an area.

» Jack-o-lanterns: Glow sticks or electric candles are the safest choice when it comes to lighting up your jack-o-lantern, but if you choose to use a real candle, do so with extreme caution. Light a candle inside a jack-o-lantern using long fireplace matches or a utility lighter, and keep it away from other decorations.

» Visibility: Give children flashlights or glow sticks for lighting; these can even be incorporated into the costume. If your child has a mask, ensure the eye holes are large enough for them to see clearly.

» Smoke alarms: This is a great time to make sure your smoke alarms are functional and up-to-date.

» Exits: Exits are not an appropriate place for decorations. When decorating, ensure that nothing is blocking any escape routes.

Founded in 1896, NFPA is a global self-funded nonprofit organization devoted to eliminating death, injury, property and economic loss due to fire, electrical and related hazards.

According to a press release, the association delivers information and knowledge through more than 300 consensus codes and standards, research, training, education, outreach and advocacy; and by partnering with others who share an interest in furthering the NFPA mission.

For more information, visit nfpa.org.

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