There are simple steps you can take to make Halloween a fun yet safe experience for your home, your children and any little trick-or-treaters who may come to your property.
When decorating, keep the following information in mind:
- Instead of live candles, use glow sticks, flashlights or battery-operated candles in carved pumpkins or other decorations, especially in paper bags used to line your walkway.1
- Remind children to stay away from any open flames, such as in carved pumpkins or other decorations.
- There are a number of traditional Halloween or autumn decorations that can start on fire very easily, such as dried cornstalks. Make sure to keep these decorations away from open flames or other heat sources.
- Exits and escape routes in homes should be free of any decorations or stored items.
- Keep stairs and paths or hallways clear of items that are easily tripped on. This includes your front steps and walkway up to your house!
- Are your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors working? Now is a good time to check!
The Use of “Real” Candles
While battery-operated candles or glow sticks are the preferred and safer method for lighting decorations, some people choose to use real candles2. Never leave lit candles unattended3.
- In carved pumpkins or for other decorations, keep an eye on them regularly. Use long, fireplace-style matches or a utility lighter4.
- Watch children at all times, especially when candles are lit. With packs of little kids running up and down your walkway, the flame could easily burn their costumes5.
- Place lit pumpkins well away from anything that can burn and far enough out of the way of trick-or-treaters, doorsteps, and walkways6.
- Tell children to stay away from open flames such as jack-o-lanterns with candles in them. Be sure they know how to immediately stop, drop, and roll if their clothing catches fire.
- Are your children attending parties at others’ homes? Teach them to look for escape routes should a fire or other emergency occur.
Electronics and Other Decorations
- Purchase lights, electronic decorations, and extension cords that are UL-listed. This means that the product has undergone safety testing in a lab approved by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA)7.
- Be careful not to overload extension cords. Know how much power is required for electronic decorations before using an extension cord8. Look at the labels on the cord and the decorations plugged into it, and make sure the total of the power used by the decorations does not exceed the cord’s power capacity9.
- Check packaging to make sure any lights or electronic decorations you plan to use outside are designed for outdoor use10, and be sure that you are using extension cords designed for outdoor use11.
- Do not use decorations designed for indoor use as outdoor decorations. This can lead to electric shock and fire during wet weather12.
- Whether you recently purchased the electronic decorations or have had them for years, inspect all parts for broken lights or frayed wires. Do not use the items until repairs have been made, or toss them out and buy new ones.
- Before changing light bulbs or making other repairs, unplug the unit.
- When placing any decorations in a high place, make sure to stand on a stable ladder or sturdy chair.
- Keep fake spider webs away from young children. They often resemble cotton candy!
- Supervise all children if they’re helping you decorate.
*This article was originally published October 20, 2020. It was last updated on October 4, 2023.