DOJ: News Release

State Fire Marshal Passes Along Tips for a Safe Halloween

HELENA – With Halloween just days away, Friday Montana State Fire Marshal Terry Phillips reminded Montanans of some simple precautions to keep this year’s holiday fire-safe.

Phillips said according to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), decorations for special events account for annual average of 1,000 home fires. Most often the cause of these fires were candles, causing two civilian deaths and $6.4 million in direct property damage per year from 1993-1997.

Taking simple safety precautions, like making sure fabrics for costumes and decorative materials are flame-resistant can prevent fires and the loss of life. According to NFPA, more than 100 people die each year as a result of their clothing becoming ignited.

Phillips offered these tips for a safe, fun Halloween.

  • Purchase only costumes, wigs, and props labeled flame-resistant or flame-retardant. When creating a costume, choose material that won’t easily ignite if it comes in contact with heat or flame. Avoid costume pieces that billow or trail behind the 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, heaters, etc.
  • Use extreme caution when decorating with candles and supervise children at all times when candles are lit. Adults should do all lighting of candles and Jack-O-Lanterns and never allow children to use matches or lighters to light these objects.
  • When lighting Jack-O-Lanterns, use long, fireplace style matches and be sure to place lit pumpkins well away from combustible items. Pumpkins can also be illuminated with small, inexpensive flashlights.
  • Use flashlights as alternatives to candles or torch lights when decorating walks and yards. They are much safer for trick-or-treaters, whose costumes may brush against the lighting.
  • Instruct children to stay away from open flames or other heat sources. Be sure children know how to stop, drop and roll in the event their clothing catches fire. (Stop immediately; drop to the ground, covering your face with your hands, and roll over and over to extinguish the flames.)
  • Instruct children who are attending parties at others’ homes to locate the exits and plan on how to get out quickly in case of an emergency.
  • Provide children with lightweight flashlights to carry for lighting or as part of the costume.
  • All decorative material used in “haunted houses” must be flame-resistant or flame-retardant. Local fire authorities will inspect all haunted houses. There must be adequate exits, personnel posted at these exits with flashlights and the ability to turn on the lights for emergency exiting. There shall also be fire extinguishers located throughout the structure as required by the fire code.

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