southern california edison

Lights and Lanterns: Safest ways to avoid Halloween hazards

The estimated Halloween spending this year on decorations, costumes and more: $8.8 billion.

Safely displaying decorations and wearing all those costumes: priceless.

With millions of Southern Californians among the 172 million Americans expected to participate in the Halloween festivities, Southern California Edison joins public safety experts nationwide in encouraging smart and safe decisions to avoid electrical and fire accidents  for celebrants.

High on the list are decorating hazards like tossing light strands or electrical cords into trees or vegetation near power lines or even placing them on utility poles. Anyone, especially rooftop decorators, should always stay at least 10 feet away from overhead power lines.

And, to avoid ignition sources with California already deep in wildfire season – Opens in new window, do not place highly flammable decorations like cornstalks and spider webs too close to heat sources like incandescent lightbulbs and space heaters since 44% of the annual average of 780 Halloween-related residential fires are started by decorations being too close to a heat source – Opens in new window, according to the National Fire Protection Association.

Burning candles are a particularly troublesome heat source, with the fire association citing candles for 37% of these fires.

“There’s no reason to take unnecessary risks in decorating for Halloween,” said Andrew Martinez, SCE’s vice president of Safety, Security and Business Resiliency. “Jack-o’-lanterns, for one, should only be illuminated with flameless candles that pose no hazard. In fact, these flameless candles are ideal for all decorations. They have the same effect as burning candles, down to the scent, and are not a fire hazard.”

Candles, however, are only one of the many potential hazards posed by decorations and costumes. SCE offers additional dos and don’ts on celebrating Halloween safely:

HALLOWEEN DOS:

  • Carefully inspect electrical lights and cords, discarding any with broken bulbs or damaged wires.
  • Consider LED lights that generate less heat and are far more efficient.
  • Use plastic zip cords when hanging lights instead of staples, tacks and nails.
  • Keep highly flammable decorations like cornstalks and ghosts at least three feet away from heat sources like space heaters.
  • Only buy or make flame-resistant costumes for your children.

HALLOWEEN DON’TS:

  • Avoid overloading extension cords. Follow manufacturer’s instructions for use of extension cords and connection of strands of light.
  • Never connect two extension cords to extend their length and never place them in pinched positions.
  • Look out for unsafe electrical decorations by using only those bearing the labels of trusted independent safety organizations like Underwriters Laboratories (UL), Intertek or CSA.
  • Never use electrical products outdoors that are marked “for indoor use.”
  • Never leave decorations on when leaving home or going to bed.
  • And, if metallic balloons are part of your celebration, they should never be released because of the safety, fire and outage threat posed when the balloons get into power lines or electrical equipment.

“Decorations and costumes should always be chosen with safety in mind – Opens in new window,” said Martinez. “Smart planning and smart choices with them can go a long way toward enjoying a fun and safe Halloween.”

This article was released by Southern California Edison.