The Chief’s Corner

By Robert W. Seltzer, BSEE, EFO, MPA

Chief Smithfield Fire Dept.

Halloween is right around the corner. Probably one of the more fun children’s event of the year. I remember my own kids growing up and how they looked forward to Halloween each year.

Although Halloween night can be much fun it can also be a dangerous night. Dark conditions and excited young children do not mix well on Halloween night. In all the excitement, it is too easy to loose site of safety and when that happens, accidents occur.

To ensure a safe evening, consider the following.

When choosing a costume, stay away from billowing or long trailing fabric. If you are making your own costume, choose material that won’t easily ignite if it comes into contact with heat or flame. If your child is wearing a mask, make sure the eye holes are large enough so they can see out.
Provide children with flashlights to carry for lighting or glow sticks as part of their costume.
Dried flowers, cornstalks, and crepe paper are highly flammable. Keep these and other decorations well away from all open flames and heat sources, including light bulbs and heaters.
It is safest to use a flashlight or battery-operated candles in a jack-o-lantern. If you use a real candle, use extreme caution. Make sure children are watched at all times when candles are lit. When lighting candles inside jack-o-lanterns, use long fireplace-style matches or a utility lighter. Be sure to place lit pumpkins well away from anything that can burn and far away from trick-or-treaters, doorsteps, walkways, and yards.
If you choose to use candle decorations, make sure to keep them well attended at all times.
Remember to keep exits clear of decorations, so nothing blocks escape routes.
Tell children to stay away from open flames. Be sure they know how to stop, drop and roll if their clothing catches fire. (Have them practice stopping immediately, dropping to the ground, covering their face with hands, and rolling over and over to put the flames out.)
Use flashlights as alternatives to candles or torch lights when decorating walkways and yards. They are much safer for trick-or-treaters, whose costumes may brush against the lighting.
Maybe consider a party at your home inviting children from the neighborhood. This would provide for safer, more controlled environment.

But regardless of what you choose to do on Halloween night, be safe, have fun, and enjoy the kids while they are young!