Candles can sometimes seem as ubiquitous to Halloween as they are to birthday cakes.
But no matter how you slice it, candles pose a significant fire hazard as families decorate for Halloween.
This is borne out by Halloween typically being one of the highest days of the year for candle fires, generally trailing only Christmas Day, Christmas Eve and New Year’s Day.
With a record $9.1 billion in Halloween spending expected this year, you can be sure plenty of it will be spent on candles to create those perfect jack-o’-lanterns and other decorations.
What with their hazards this Halloween season, public safety experts strongly recommend battery-operated, flameless candles for decorating since not only 40 percent of the estimated 860 home decoration fires (excluding Christmas trees) annually begin with candles, but also more than half (58 percent) occur when combustible items like spider webs and goblins are left too close to candles.
For example, flameless candles and even glow sticks are ideal for illuminating jack-o’-lanterns.
“For everyone’s safety, we strongly urge flameless candles for Halloween decorations,” said Andrew S. Martinez, Southern California Edison’s vice president of Safety, Security and Business Resiliency. “They can provide the same effect as burning candles, and most importantly, they are not a fire hazard.”
The hazards for Halloween decorators, however, don’t end there. SCE offers other dos and don’ts of decorating and celebrating around electricity:
- Always look up and look out for power lines when decorating outside and always stay at least 10 feet away from them.
- Carefully inspect electrical lights and cords, discarding any with broken bulbs or damaged wires.
- Only buy or make flame-resistant costumes for your children.
- Never throw light strands or electrical cords into trees or vegetation near power lines and never place them on utility poles.
- Never use unsafe electrical decorations. Use only those bearing the labels of trusted independent safety organizations like Underwriters Laboratories (UL), Intertek or CSA.
- Avoid overloading extension cords. Follow manufacturer’s instructions for use of extension cords and connection of strands of lights.
- Never connect two extension cords to extend their length, never place them in pinched positions and, to avoid trips and falls, never position them in high-traffic areas and under rugs.
- Because they catch fire easily, keep highly-flammable decorations like cornstalks and ghosts at least three feet away from heat sources like lightbulbs and space heaters.
- If possible, avoid costumes with billowing or long-trailing fabric in the event flaming candles or open fires are present.
The article above was written by Paul Netter and first appeared in Inside Edison, a publication of Edison International.