In the 2005 study "The Seasonal Nature of Fires," the Federal Emergency Management Agency noted there is often a spike in fires on Halloween. But, that doesn't mean you can't make the spookiest night of the year a safe night for your family to enjoy.
A howling wind blowing over a pumpkin with a lit candle inside or a paper decoration placed too near the stove could take your Halloween night from spooky to downright dangerous. To help avoid a fire at your haunted house this year, you may want to check out these tips:
Cleaning out a pumpkin and carving it into a grinning Jack O' Lantern is a time-honored Halloween tradition. And, to give their creation a cheerful glow, some people light candles and stand them inside before putting the pumpkin "lid" on -- but that's not a good idea.
Open flames always have to be carefully watched, but when that flame is contained in an easily kickable, hollowed-out pumpkin, it can pose a hazard. Instead of that votive candle or tea light, you may want to opt for one of the many alternatives, like a battery-operated LED light or a glow stick.
Obviously, dried cornstalks and open flame do not mix well. Halloween comes around harvest time, and bales of hay and straw scarecrows abound. If you want to celebrate the harvest with real dried cornstalks and hay, make sure to keep those highly flammable decorations away from open flames.
Luminaries, or paper bags with lit candles inside, also can pose a fire hazard, so you may want to consider battery-operated or electric decorations to illuminate your yard and windows.
You may not think about it, but a Halloween costume itself can pose a fire hazard. The Burn Institute offers Halloween safety tips such as purchasing only flame-retardant costumes and accessories. Also, while your little one may think Dracula should have a cape, you may want to think twice about any long, flowing fabric on your children's costumes, which can catch fire if they come in contact with a candle. If clothing does catch fire, make sure your loved ones know how to "stop, drop and roll."
Following these tips may help you prevent accidental fires, but intentional fires are a problem on Halloween, as well. The FEMA study says the number of suspicious fires or those attributed to arson usually skyrockets around Halloween. If you notice anything suspicious on Halloween (or any other day), you should call the police.
You may want your home to look spooky for all the little ghosts and goblins who are going to come knocking, but you also want to make sure it is safe. In addition to following safety tips in the hope of avoiding a fire, you also may want to think about providing a safe escape route in the event that one happens. The Burn Institute recommends that no decorations block your home's exits or pathways leading away from it.
It may not always be possible to avoid a fire, but following some of these steps may help to reduce your risk. Another good idea is to make sure you are protected with an insurance policy that is right for you. Visit Allstate.com's Homeowners Insurance page for more information.