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State Fire Marshal offers Halloween fire safety tips

From Staff Reports

With Halloween fast approaching, the State Fire Marshal’s Office (SFMO) wants to remind Tennesseans to take simple safety precautions to keep this year’s Halloween festivities both fun and fire-free.

“Halloween can be an exciting time for kids and adults alike, but Tennessee revelers should pay close attention to hazards posed by candles, decorations, and costumes,” said State Fire Marshal and Commerce & Insurance Commissioner Julie Mix McPeak. “By taking a few basic safety measures, residents can help ensure Halloween fun doesn’t lead to fire danger.”

According to data from the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), decorations are the first thing to ignite in 900 reported home fires each year. Two of every five of these fires were started by a candle.

The SFMO offers the following guidelines to help the public avoid Halloween fire hazards:

  • Choose a costume without long trailing fabric. This can cause a child to trip or may touch flames in jack-o’-lanterns or other decorations.
  • If you make your own costume, use materials that won’t catch on fire easily if they come in contact with heat or flame. If your children wear masks, make sure eyeholes are large enough to allow unobstructed views.
  • Give your children flashlights or glow sticks so they can see where they are walking.
  • Keep exits clear of decorations.
  • Dried flowers, cornstalks and crepe paper are highly flammable. Keep these and other decorations away from all open flames and heat sources, including light bulbs and heaters.
  • It is safest to use a glow stick, flashlight, or battery-operated candles in a jack-o’-lantern. If you use a flame candle, use extreme caution and keep them well attended at all times.
  • When lighting candles inside jack-o-lanterns, use long fireplace matches or a long-nozzled candle lighter. Be sure to place lit pumpkins well away from anything that can burn and far enough out of the way of trick-or-treaters and such high-traffic areas as doorsteps, walkways and yards.
  • 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 faces with their hands, and rolling over and over.)
  • When attending a Halloween party, look for ways out of the home/venue and plan how you would get out in an emergency.
  • When visiting a haunted house, always be aware of your surroundings and on the lookout for safety features that can make the difference during an emergency.

The State Fire Marshal’s Office encourages Tennesseans to have working smoke alarms installed in their homes and to develop and practice a home fire escape plan with two ways out of every room and a designated outside meeting place.

Tennessee residents can request a free smoke alarm by visiting