NORTHBROOK, Ill., Oct. 12, 2010 - The only thing more frightening than your child's ghoulish Halloween costume is the potential risk it can pose for serious injury. What's more, scary skeleton string lights and jack-o-lanterns that haunt your home could be potential fire hazards if not used properly. Every Halloween, the second most "decorated" holiday after Christmas, potentially flammable costumes and improperly-used decorations contribute to a significant increase in home fires, burn-related injuries and accidents.
With 1,150 home structure fires beginning with decorations1, Underwriters Laboratories (UL) - the leading product safety testing organization - is sharing family-friendly ideas on how to keep Halloween spooky and safe.
"The most important Halloween trick is to keep safety top-of-mind," says John Drengenberg, consumer safety director for UL. "With 41 million trick-or-treaters expected to be out and about on Halloween night, following UL's safety tips can help families make Halloween scary for the right reasons."
To help families stay safe this October, UL suggests reviewing these easy-to-follow safety steps:
Safe and Spooky Home Decorating
- Don't Frankenstein Your Lights: When purchasing electrical decorations, make sure to shop at a reputable retailer and look for the UL Mark. Don't plug in electrical decorations that draw more watts than the rating of the cord. Use special, heavy duty extension cords for high wattage decorations such as fog machines and electrically-powered inflatable decorations.
- Inspect Decorations with Fiendish Care: Look for loose connections, frayed or bare wires, and broken or cracked sockets when using lights to decorate the home for Halloween. When hanging lights, use plastic hooks or clips to reduce the risk of electric shock and fire hazards. Never nail or staple light strings. Look for a red UL Mark to indicate that lights are certified for both indoor and outdoor use. A green UL Mark indicates certification for indoor use only.
- Beware of Candles: According to the NFPA, candles are the cause of approximately 15,000 reported house fires every year. To help prevent avoidable accidents, place candles far from decorations, window treatments and paper to avoid potential home fires. Candles, especially in a jack-o-lantern, should be off the ground and out of children's reach. Try battery-operated LED candles for an even safer option.
- Light the Way for Trick-or-Treaters: Place lights on the outside edge of walkways and make sure all decorations are clear of where kids will be walking. Decorations that obstruct a walkway could potentially cause eager trick-or-treaters to trip or fall. Avoid using candles to light your walkway.
- Clear the Cobwebs and Look for the UL Mark: When stringing up those skeleton and pumpkin decorations, check for the UL Mark on light strings, electrical decorations and extension cords. The UL Mark means the product has been found free of foreseeable hazards and is safer for your family.
Safe and Spooky Costumes
- Say Boo! To Unsafe Costumes: Look for fire-resistant or flame-retardent materials - such as nylon - when purchasing costumes, fabric and accessories. Although these labels do not mean these items are fire-proof, it does indicate the fabric will resist burning and should extinguish quickly once removed from the ignition source.
- Don't Trip up Your Goblins: Avoid costumes made with flimsy materials and outfits with big, baggy sleeves or billowing skirts, which could increase the risk of tripping and are more likely to come in contact with candles or other ignition sources.
- Unmask Your Little Ghouls: Try to avoid outfitting your children in masks and instead use face paint. Masks can obstruct vision, and children may find it hard to breathe when wearing them. If a mask is used, make sure it fits securely and has eyeholes large enough to allow full vision.
- Be Safe and Bright: Light and bright fabrics will be clearly visible to motorists. If your children do wear dark materials, decorate costumes with reflective tape or carry a flashlight for better visibility.
For a complete Halloween safety package, including the Trick or Treat Halloween Safety Quiz for families, visit http://www.safetyathome.com/.