When thinking of events and celebrations that have significant fire risks attached to them, Halloween is often overshadowed by Bonfire Night. However, you might be surprised at the number of callouts there are on 31st October!
Candles and Naked Flames
Although more and more people are making the switch to flameless LED candles, others still prefer the real thing.
Candles may be great at achieving that spooky, flickering ambience. However, they can pose a serious danger. With a combination of Halloween decorations and candles, the risk of fire is significantly heightened.
Candles can all too easily set fire to furniture and hanging objects. People may think a tealight is safe inside the pumpkin they’ve spent hours carving, but a knock by an elbow or a curious pet can lead to things catching light easier and quicker than they might expect – especially when near loose, hanging costumes and decorations.
These are often a high ignition risk due to the materials they’re made of. It’s vitally important that costumes carry the CE mark on the label. Even so, like all clothing, costumes can easily catch fire.
The advice to the public is if candles are used, they should be placed well away from other objects and never left unsupervised. However, this advice often goes unheeded.
There are many safe lighting alternatives that can provide the same effect. However, as with Christmas lights, people often don’t remember to switch off their lit decorations overnight. If they’re plugged into the mains, plugs can easily become overheated. Many of these types of lights are cheap and cheerful purchases from discount or online stores, which may have varying safety standards.
It’s becoming more and more common to go ‘all-out’ at Halloween, and really go to town with the decorations. Shops and supermarkets are bursting with an ever-increasing array of options here. However, many people forget to ensure that exits are kept clear, so that they can easily escape their home in case of a fire. In a fire, that bulky, spooky decoration can too easily become a trip hazard, or obstruct a doorway.
Other Fire Risks at Halloween
Here’s a very scary statistic – London Fire Brigade estimate they see up to 40% more deliberate fires on Halloween, in comparison to the days before or after. These arson attacks can target abandoned vehicles, empty buildings, or even rubbish or recycling containers.
Abandoned buildings can be very appealing to people out to cause mischief during Halloween, and the ‘spookiness’ of them makes them particularly enticing.
It’s not just fire that’s a risk either. A group of youngsters exploring derelict, unstable buildings is an accident waiting to happen. There are numerous incidents of people becoming trapped or injured when part of an old building has given way.
There’s also the issue of fireworks – these aren’t just for Bonfire Night! Usually they go on sale around mid-October, and many people holding Halloween parties in their homes include fireworks as part of the celebrations.
As you’ll be aware, a firework gone astray can quickly lead to disaster. Add alcohol into the mix at a Halloween party (as with any occasion where fireworks are involved), and the risks increase hugely.
Of course, we’re not saying people shouldn’t have fun at Halloween, or decorate their house as they see fit. After all, it’s one of the main family and social occasions of the year! However, safety always needs to be the main concern, particularly where there are fire risks involved.