It goes without saying that Halloween won’t be the same this year during the COVID-19 pandemic and it shouldn’t be.
Public health officials are not recommending trick-or-treating and other traditions like haunted houses and parades while banning altogether large indoor and outdoor gatherings and parties with non-household members.
But decorations, well, that’s another story. Public health officials are encouraging those — provided they comply with COVID-19 protocols — and retail store owners anticipate home, yard and even indoor decorations will be more popular than ever with more people at home.
Southern California Edison joins public safety experts nationwide in encouraging smart and safe decorating decisions to avoid electrical and fire accidents. Californians are among the 148 million people across the U.S. expected to partake in Halloween-related activities – Opens in new window in a year when safe-at-home activities are preferred.
“People might feel safer – Opens in new window in these times decorating their homes and yards for Halloween, but equally important is installing and maintaining those decorations with safety top of mind,” said Andrew Martinez, SCE’s vice president of Safety, Security and Business Resiliency. “That means not taking unnecessary risks like using burning candles, decorating too close to power lines and placing highly flammable decorations too close to heat sources.”
With California already deep into wildfire season, flameless candles are highly recommended when decorating with them since 60% of candle fires start when items like decorations are too close to them, according to the National Fire Protection Association. This is the reason those ever-present jack-o’-lanterns should only be illuminated with flameless candles that pose no safety hazard, have the same effect as burning candles and are ideal for all decorations.
As for outdoor decorators, they should always look up and look out for power lines, with anyone, especially rooftop decorators, always staying at least 10 feet away from power lines when placing light strands or electrical cords on homes or into trees or vegetation.
Though among the greatest hazards, candles and power lines are only a few of the many potential problems posed by decorations. Here are some additional dos and don’ts on celebrating Halloween safely:
- Keep highly flammable decorations like cornstalks and ghosts at least three feet away from heat sources like incandescent lightbulbs and space heaters.
- Consider LED lights that generate less heat and are far more efficient.
- Carefully inspect electrical lights and cords, discarding any with broken bulbs or damaged wires.
- Use plastic zip cords when hanging lights instead of staples, tacks and nails.
- Only buy or make flame-resistant costumes for your children.
- Turn off all electrically powered decorations when leaving home or going to bed.
- 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.
- Keep electrical cords from high-traffic areas to prevent trips and falls.
- And, if metallic balloons are part of your celebration, they should be kept tied down and never released because of the safety, fire and outage threat posed when the balloons get into power lines or electrical equipment.
- 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.
- Never use electrical products outdoors that are marked “for indoor use.”
- Never block escape routes with decorations.
This article was released by Southern California Edison.