While most parents understandably focus their Halloween worry on what might happen to their children in the neighborhood streets, it’s important not to overlook an equally likely source of accident: your own home. With little ones running around during the darker hours of the day, you’ll want to make sure that your house and yard are as kid-friendly as possible.
For the most part, holiday safety is a matter of common sense, but it's always better to err on the side of "too safe." When it comes to Halloween, there are three main areas of concern: paths where kids will be walking, open flames and fire safety, and sharp tools when carving pumpkins.
Clear the Way
Make sure the path to your door is well lit. Now's the time to replace that burned-out light bulb in the lamppost. Rake up wet leaves or spread salt on the walkway if ice and snow have made an early appearance. Clear your yard, sidewalk, and porch of flower pots, hoses, toys, tools, gnomes, and the like.
During one three-year period in the United States, holiday decorations that caught a blaze caused 1,150 residential structural fires. In more than half of these destructive fires, a candle was the source of ignition, but lights and lamps sparked the blaze in many cases as well. The National Fire Protection Association recommends following these fire safety do's and don'ts:
- Do use simulated candles or votives, rather than tapers, inside jack-o-lanterns. Never leave candles unattended, and keep them at least 12 inches away from flammable materials. Place them out of reach of children, in a spot where a pet or child can't tip them over or catch a trailing costume on fire.
- Do take extra care to extinguish cigarettes completely, and don't smoke near decorations.
- Do ditch any costume that's confining in favor of one made with flame-retardant fabric. Wigs should be flame retardant as well.
- Don't illuminate fabric decorations, such as ghosts, by placing lights beneath them. Instead, use glow sticks or battery-operated simulated candles to light up your ghoulish props.
- Don't place decorations where they block or obstruct fire escape paths in your home, church, or business.
Use Proper Carving Techniques
To carve a pumpkin, set it on a flat surface and use a blunt-tipped serrated knife. Do not allow children to handle knives if they lack the coordination to do so, no matter how many times they beg you to let them try. Give your kids a set of colorful markers to use instead.