These pumpkins get their spooky glow from battery operated candles. Submitted photo

REGION — As families find creative ways to celebrate Halloween in response to COVID-19, the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) urges everyone to keep fire safety in mind, particularly when decorating with candles and electrical lighting.

“Because typical Halloween activities like trick-or-treating may be curtailed or even canceled in some communities, we suspect an even bigger focus on Halloween decorating in and around homes this year,” said Lorraine Carli, NFPA’s vice president of Outreach and Advocacy. “We urge everyone to carefully consider fire safety to ensure that celebrations remain festively spooky, not hazardous.”

According to NFPA, candles are among the leading causes of U.S. home fires. NFPA’s latest U.S. Home Candle Fires report shows that an annual average of 7,610 home fires are started by candles, resulting in 81 deaths, 677 injuries and $278 million in direct property damage. In addition, an average of 770 home fires started when decorations ignited. These fires caused an average of two civilian deaths, 20 civilian injuries, and $11.1 million in direct property damage per year.

NFPA offers these reminders to make sure everyone’s Halloween celebrations don’t go from “boo” to “boo-hoo”:

Use a battery-operated candle or glow stick in jack-o-lanterns.

Dried flowers, cornstalks, and crepe paper catch fire easily. Keep all decorations away from open flames and other heat sources like light bulbs and heaters.

When using electrical lighting to decorate your home, make sure it is used in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions. Some lights are only for indoor or outdoor use, but not both.

Use clips, not nails, to hang lights so the cords do not get damaged.

Remember to keep exits clear of decorations so nothing blocks escape routes. Make sure all smoke alarms are working.

For families still planning to attend Halloween parties or go trick-or-treating:

When choosing costumes, stay away from long trailing fabric that could come in contact with open flames or other heat sources.

Teach children to stay away from open flames, including jack-o-lanterns with candles in them.

Provide children with flashlights to carry for lighting or glow sticks as part of their costumes.

Visit the NFPA Halloween safety page for more resources of how to stay safe. Frightfully fun activities for kids can be found on NFPA’s Sparky the Fire Dog® homepage.

For release and other announcements about NFPA initiatives, research and resources, please visit the NFPA press room at https://www.nfpa.org/News-and-Research/Publications-and-media/Press-Room.

As all of us continue to navigate the evolving situation with COVID-19, NFPA remains committed to supporting you with the resources you need to minimize risk and help prevent loss, injuries, and death from fire, electrical, and other hazards. For information on NFPA’s response to the coronavirus, please visit our webpage.

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