|IMMEDIATE PRESS RELEASE
October 17, 2008
|Contact: J. William Degnan
State Fire Marshal
Halloween Costume Safety
Halloween is a time of play, decorations, dress-up and trick-or-treating. But with this excitement comes the risk of fires and burns from ignition sources such as candles and Jack-o-lanterns, if they come into even momentary contact with certain Halloween costumes.
New Hampshire State Fire Marshal, J. William Degnan , New Hampshire Association of Fire Chiefs, President Chris Christopoulos and the National Association of State Fire Marshals is providing this fire safety message in the hope of reducing fires and burn injuries during Halloween festivities. "Candle fires are, sadly, all too common. Fire data show that nationally about 3,400 candle-related burn injuries are treated in hospital emergency rooms each year," notes James A. Burns, NASFM safety spokesman. "Our concern arises from the increased exposure to candle fires around Halloween, with children and increasingly adults, too-wearing loose-fitting, baggy or billowing costumes. These costumes can ignite and burn fiercely, resulting in a very real risk of serious burn injuries."
Please follow this costume safety advice:
"The New Hampshire State Fire Marshal, The New Hampshire Association of Fire Chiefs and National Association of State Fire Marshals wishes all a happy, fire safe Halloween." Visit our Web sites at www.nh.gov/safety/divisions/firesafety/ or www.firemarshals.org/ for more fire safety information.
- Avoid flowing and loose-fitting costumes, as well as masked and
over-the-head designs, which can impede vision or make removal difficult
in the event of fire. Costumes that are snug or form-fitting are less
likely to come into contact with ignition sources, and children are also
less likely to trip over them while walking.
- Look for labels that indicate the costume is made of flame-resistant
materials. These costumes, if they come into contact with a flame, are
supposed to stop burning if the flame is removed.
- If you cannot find a label indicating flame resistance, choose costumes
that are made primarily of polyester or nylon fabric. Such fabrics
typically do not ignite from a small flame and if they do, the resulting
fire may burn slowly and readily extinguish. If you are making costumes
from scratch, choose polyester or nylon fabrics for greater flame
- Costumes made from cotton, rayon, acetate or their blends can be more
dangerous because these fabrics are inherently more flammable. If not
treated to be flame resistant, such costumes may ignite quickly if they
brush across or into a small open flame or very hot surface. Avoid
costumes made of these types of fabrics.
- The addition of fake fur, stringy strands, lace trim, ornamentation,
added padding and foam, imprinted or stenciled designs and flimsy
material can make any costume more flammable and increase a
wearer’s fire risk. Such designs should be avoided.
- Always supervise children as they go trick or treating, taking special
care to avoid lit candles and jack-o-lanterns, high heat or flaming
- If a costume does catch fire, remember to "Stop, Drop and
Roll." This serves to keep flames away from the upper body, neck
and facial areas. It also helps to slow or reduce flame spread and
smother the flames.
- When you decorate for Halloween, use battery operated or electric lights
that have been tested for safety by a recognized testing laboratory.
Check each set of lights, new or old, for damage. Throw out damaged
- Do not use candles or other open flames, inside or outside. Keep any
small open flames away from curtains, decorations or other objects that
could catch fire.
- Do not overload extension cords.