Safety First Can Keep Halloween Hazards From Haunting
Smart choices, planning and placement of decorations are the safest ways to prevent electrical and fire accidents
By Paul Netter, Southern California Edison
Your Halloween decorations might be considered the best, the scariest or even the most realistic looking. But are they the safest?
If light strands or electrical cords are thrown into trees or vegetation near power lines or placed on utility poles, they aren’t. If highly flammable decorations like cornstalks and ghosts are left too close to heat sources like incandescent lightbulbs, they’re not. And, if combustible items like spider webs and goblins are placed too close to burning candles, they most certainly are not.
That fire hazard is epitomized by Halloween being among the highest days annually for candle fires and that candles ignite 41 percent of the estimated 860 yearly home decoration fires (excluding Christmas trees).
Candles, however, are only one of the many potential hazards posed by installing and maintaining decorations this Halloween. SCE offers additional dos and don’ts on decorating safely around electricity:
- Always look up and look out for power lines when decorating outside and always stay at least 10 feet away from them.
- Carefully inspect electrical lights and cords, discarding any with broken bulbs or damaged wires.
- Consider LED lights that generate less heat and are far more efficient.
- Use plastic zip cords when hanging lights instead of staples, tacks and nails.
- Keep highly flammable decorations like cornstalks and ghosts at least three feet away from heat sources like space heaters.
- Avoid overloading extension cords. Follow manufacturer’s instructions for use of extension cords and connection of strands of light.
- Never connect two extension cords to extend their length and never place them in pinched positions.
- Look out for unsafe electrical decorations by using only those bearing the labels of trusted independent safety organizations like Underwriters Laboratories (UL), Intertek or CSA.
- Never use electrical products outdoors that are marked “for indoor use”.
- Never leave decorations on when leaving home or going to bed.
“You should always choose your decorations with safety in mind,” said Martinez. “Smart planning and careful placement of those decorations are the best preparation for a fun and safe Halloween.”