Halloween Fire Safety Guide
As legend tell us, it is claimed that the flames, smoke and ashes created by fire have protective powers, holding back dark spirits on All Hallows’ Eve. These days, fire can help to create a spooky atmosphere, and so has continued to become a large part of Halloween.
According to accident statistics from 2013, accidental candle fires in homes resulted in 401 injuries and 6 deaths across Great Britain. Statistics from the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents show that 138 people in England were admitted to hospital as a result of their clothing either igniting or melting, of which 21 were children under the age of 18. In the same year, there were 82 fire-related injuries in London alone in the 6 days between Halloween (31/10) and Bonfire Night (05/11) - a 37 per cent increase on the number of injuries recorded in 2012.
According to the Children’s Burns Trust, between January 2004 and May 2013, over 2000 children experienced a burn injury due to a scald. Of these, the overwhelming majority of accidents occurred in the victim’s own home, typically occurring in the kitchen or living room as a result of child play or an ‘exploration’ based activity. In 2012, on average 229 children a month were admitted to an NHS Burn Care Service following injury with hot liquid, such as oil or candle wax.
“Simple steps like keeping lit candles well away from the area where children are playing (or even better, using LED candles) – and being aware of good first aid will help reduce the likelihood of children receiving serious and life-changing burns”
- Paul Fuller, Chief Fire Officer of Bedfordshire Fire and Rescue Service and a Trustee of the Children’s Burns Trust
While UK data for 2014/2015 is yet to be published, a quote from Oliver Franklin, Community Safety Officer at the Buckingham Fire and Rescue Service showed that 'our call-out figures are slightly up for Halloween and Bonfire/Fireworks night” compared to the rest of the year, showing that extra care should especially be taken around the festivities.
“Prevention and good first aid are key to reducing the number of burns and scalds occurring each year, especially in children and the elderly. We would invite everyone to help raise awareness of National Burn Awareness Day which will be held on 21st October 2015”
- Alison Tweddle, Operations Manager at the Children’s Burns Trust
Fire and Flames
“It’s a shocking but timely reminder that open flames can be lethal if you don’t keep an eye on them or they are left unattended. The Brigade’s top three candle safety tips are: always place candles / tea lights in a fire resistant container; place them a heat resistant surface, like a ceramic plate; keep candles well away from items that could catch fire”
- London Fire Brigade representative
Originally made from turnips, Jack-O-Lanterns are now more commonly constructed from pumpkins, and have been used in the UK on Halloween for thousands of years. Carved pumpkins illuminated with candles or tea lights are commonly used to warn away evil spirits which enter the living world on All Hallows’ Eve.
With traditions of this nature, it is crucial that candles are placed well away from flammable items and clothing, otherwise the results can be tragic, or even fatal.
“Planning ahead can help make this Halloween a fire-safe one. Taking simple fire safety precautions, like making sure fabrics for costumes and decorative materials are flame-resistant, can prevent fires. When buying fancy dress costumes, especially for children, you should make sure they meet current fire safety standards. Netted or long, billowing fabrics can be a particular risk, particularly if you are using candles at your party or as part of your display. It’s also important, if you are using candles, to make sure they are never left unattended. Candles in pumpkins should always be put out before you go to bed, and a lit candle should never be placed next to anything flammable, like curtains or decorations”
- Kevin Ronan, Head of Community Safety, South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue
According to fire statistics for Great Britain for April 2013 to March 2014, the most common time for fires to be reported is in the hour of 8pm-9pm, right as the majority of Halloween parties will be getting started or underway.
“Never let children play near candles. If children or adults do come into contact with flames, they are advised to ‘Stop, drop and roll’. Make sure that candles are securely placed in a correct holder away from draughts, and placed where they are not likely to be knocked over. Ensure that all candles are extinguished completely at night. Ideally we recommend the use of LED candle lights in pumpkins rather than actual candles. If you are using decorative lights in your home, ensure that the electricity sockets are not overloaded”
- Oliver Franklin, Community Safety Officer, Buckinghamshire Fire and Rescue Service
Escapade – LED Candle Initiative
Having been in the fancy dress business for over 34 years, and as an authorised retailer of some of the largest brands in the world, all Escapade products conform to European safety standards.
Candles are one of the biggest causes of fires in the home - the London Fire Brigade attends around 20 fires a month caused by candles, incense and oil burners. Therefore, safety must come first and be the highest priority this Halloweens season.
“Unlike any other event throughout the year, during Halloween it is traditional to use candles in Jack-O-Lanterns around the door. As part of our fire awareness training we learn that there are three elements to make a fire: oxygen; fuel; and a heat source. We all need to breathe and wear clothing (be it fancy dress costume or a school uniform), but with the use of LED lights we can eliminate the heat source, making it impossible for fire to exist. Halloween should be scary for the right reason; together let’s make it safer for everyone”
- Bhupendra Maisuria, Director at Escapade
Read our blog for more details
To help combat this issue, we at Escapade are gifting 500 LED lights via our website and 250 in our shop in Camden. Customers who purchase any children’s costume from our website can request this fantastic free safety gift this Halloween.
Getting All Dressed Up
Children’s costumes have to comply with minimum fire resistance standards, but experts say that it is impossible to create completely fireproof clothes, as garments burn by their very nature. When considering buying or making your own fancy dress costume for this year’s Halloween festivities, you need to ensure that you consider the below:
- Avoid flammable fabrics
- Look for flame resistant or flame retardant properties
- Check that costumes conform to all relevant safety standard and regulations, including the European Directive EN71 for fancy dress items
- Avoid billowing or long-trailing features, which can easily catch alight on naked flames
As previously mentioned, the majority of children who experienced a burn injury did so due to a scald. While a burn is caused by dry heat, such as from a flame, a scald is caused by something wet, such as candle wax or melted fabric.
Long, trailing or billowing material that can easily catch alight if they brush past open flames, and should be avoided for costume ideas. It is of great importance that everyone is vigilant about what materials their costume is made of, and should avoid flammable fabrics at all costs.
Some costumes don’t exactly lend themselves to carrying money and mobile phones, but both can be essential should an emergency arise. Our advice is to either carry a bag with you and or find a safe place to store them so you have easy access to them in an emergency.
Safety First: What to Do When Trick-or-Treating
When out trick-or-treating, it is imperative that safety comes first. The five tips below will help ensure that there is no trouble on the night:
1) Stay visible: Use reflective tape or flashing lights to alert others of your presence. This way every member of your group will remain visible to other members of the public, as well as to the dangers of any passing vehicles.
2) Stay together and plan ahead: If the group splits, do not go alone! Make sure that children are accompanied at all times. Organise a set route ahead of time, sticking to well-lit paths and main roads that you are familiar with. Designate a ‘Safe Spot’ - if anyone becomes separated from your group they should return immediately to the safe spot where you will be able to meet up with them.
3) Use the car: This way the group will move more quickly around the route. When parking, leave your car in a well-lit parking place. Go back regularly to empty the bags.
4) Have respect for others: Use pathways when approaching houses, and do not walk through gardens or across lawns. Not everybody likes to participate in Halloween festivities, so respect those who use ‘No trick-or-treat’ signs on their homes and do not disturb them. These homeowners might become distressed by unexpected callers, and by ignoring these signs you may frighten or intimidate them.
5) One step forward: Walk, don’t run. Keep an eye on the path in front of you to avoid any trip hazards that aren’t readily visible in the evening.
Burns Advice: In Collaboration with St John Ambulance
Sometimes, accidents happen. Ultimately some accidents are unavoidable, no matter how many precautions you put in place. Alongside St John Ambulance, we have looked at the potential risks and the dangers that fires create over Halloween, and give some practical advice on how to; act if clothing catches fire; treat minor and severe burns or scald; treat shock as a result of burns.
Clothing on Fire:
If a person’s clothing is on fire always follow this procedure: Stop, Drop and Roll.
1) Stop the casualty panicking, running around or going outside; any movement or breeze will fan the flames.
2) Drop the casualty to the ground. If possible, wrap them tightly in a fire blanket, or heavy fabric such as a coat, curtain, blanket or rug.
3) Roll the casualty along the ground until the flames have been smothered. Treat any burns and help the casualty to lie down and start cooling the burn as soon as possible.
Severe Burns and Scalds:
1) Start cooling the injury as soon as possible. Flood the burn with plenty of cold water. Help the casualty to sit or lie down.
2) Call 999 for emergency help. If possible, get someone to do this while you continue cooling the burn.
3) Continue cooling the affected area for at least 10 minutes, or until the pain is relieved. Watch for signs of breathing difficulty. Do not over-cool the casualty because you may lower the body temperature to a dangerous level, causing hypothermia. This is a particular hazard for babies and elderly people.
4) Do not touch or otherwise interfere with the burn. Gently remove any rings, watches, belts, shoes and burnt or smouldering clothing before the tissues begin to swell. Do not remove any clothing that is stuck to the burn.
5) When the burn is cooled, cover the injured area with kitchen film to protect it from infection, applying it lengthways over the burn. A clean plastic bag can be used to cover a hand or foot; secure it with a bandage or adhesive tape applied over the plastic, not the damaged skin. If there is no plastic film available, use a sterile dressing, or improvise with non-fluffy material, such as a folded triangular bandage.
6) Reassure the casualty and treat them for shock if necessary. Record details of the casualty’s injuries. Monitor and record his vital signs – breathing, pulse and level of response – while waiting for help to arrive.
Minor Burns and Scalds:
1) Flood the injured part with cold water for at least 10 minutes or until the pain is relieved. If there is no water available, any cold, harmless liquid, such as milk or canned drinks, can be used.
2) Gently remove any jewellery, watches, belts or constricting clothing from the injured area before it begins to swell.
3) When the burn is cooled, cover it with kitchen film or place a clean plastic bag over a foot or hand. Apply the kitchen film lengthways over the burn, not around the limb because the tissues swell. If you do not have kitchen film or a plastic bag, use a sterile dressing or a non-fluffy pad, and bandage loosely in place.
4) Seek medical advice if the casualty is a child, or if you are in any doubt about the casualty’s condition.
Shock as a result of a burn:
1) Treat the burn using the steps above
2) Help the casualty to lie down. Rise and support their legs above the level of his heart to improve blood supply to the vital organs.
3) Call 999 for emergency help. Tell the ambulance you suspect shock.
4) Loosen tight clothing to reduce constriction at the neck, chest and waist.
5) Keep the casualty warm by covering the non-injured part with coats or blankets
6) Monitor and record vital signs – breathing, pulse and level of response – while waiting for help to arrive.
- Do not remove anything sticking to the burn
- Do not burst any blisters
- Do not put blister plasters on blisters caused by a burn
- Do not apply any type of lotion or ointment to the burnt area
- The use of specialised dressings, sprays and gels to cool burns is not recommended
- Do not use adhesive dressings or apply adhesive tape to the skin
- If the casualty has a burn on his face, do not cover the injury; you could cause the casualty distress and obstruct their airway
- Do not allow the casualty to eat or drink because he may need an anaesthetic.
Be Careful This Halloween: Escapade’s Checklist
In the run up to Halloween this year, it is up to each and every one of us to be vigilant and truly aware of the potential health and safety risks that come along with the festivities and traditions. The list below addresses some of the more prominent health and safety concerns of the season, and act as a handy checklist to follow to help you safeguard your home.
- Test your home
Make sure that smoke alarms work – buy fresh batteries ahead of time just in case.
- Light the way
Choose alternatives to candles to use in carved pumpkins and other Halloween decorations – safer substitutions include battery-operated candles, torches, and glow sticks. The target="_blank" Buckinghamshire Fire and Rescue Service recommend the use of LED candle lights in pumpkins rather than actual candles. If you must use candles, never leave them unattended and keep them well away from children, pets, and anything that can burn.
- Open flames
Keep decorations and anything else that may be flammable away from all open flames and heat sources, including light bulbs and heaters. Always place candles in fire resistant containers, and ensure that they are on a heat resistant surface.
- Look at the label
All clothing has some fire risk, but a variety of standards are in place to protect the quality and safety of clothing for children and adults. When purchasing or making costumes for Halloween check that the fabrics used are flame-resistant or flame-retardant, and conform to all safety standards and regulations. Look for materials that won’t easily ignite, and avoid billowing or long-trailing features.
- “Stop, drop and roll”
If clothing does catch fire, remember to stop immediately, drop to the ground and roll over continuously to extinguish flames.
- Escape plan: exit this way
Have a home escape plan, with a designated meeting point outside your home in the event of a fire. Keep exits clear to ensure nothing blocks your escape routes.
- Waves of electricity
If you are using decorative lights in your home over the Halloween period, ensure that electricity sockets and extension leads are not overloaded.
Better to be safe than sorry
Teach children their home address and phone number if they are heading out to go trick-or-treating, and explain how to call the emergency services for help in case of an accident, whether in or out of the home.
Happy Haunting From The Escapade Team!