Halloween is a fun, spooky, exciting time of year for children – and for many adults, too. To keep the annual celebration safe for everyone, the Township of Langley Fire Department is encouraging residents to take precautions to prevent fires or injuries.
“With all the costumes, candy, decorations, and special events, Halloween is something a lot of people look forward to,” said public fire and life safety educator Krista Barton.
“However, trick or treating and parties take place in the dark, and it is common to see open flames such as candles used to add ambience to the evening. There is a potential for danger, but by thinking ahead and making smart choices, people can help protect their families and homes and ensure Halloween is safe and enjoyable.”
When choosing a costume, stay away from billowing or long trailing fabric that can get snagged or caught, cause tripping, or come in contact with sources of heat. If wearing a mask, make sure the eye holes are large enough to see out of. Children who are trick or treating should carry flashlights or use lighting or glow sticks as part of their costumes to enhance their visibility.
Decorations such as dried flowers, cornstalks, and crepe papers are high flammable and – as with all kinds of décor – should be kept well away from open flames, candles, and heat sources such as light bulbs and heaters.
Carving pumpkins is a favourite Halloween tradition. To ensure your Jack-o-lantern doesn’t pose a fire hazard, light it up by placing a flashlight or battery-operated candle inside. If you do use a real candle, use extreme caution and make sure children are watched at all times when candles are lit. Use long fireplace-style matches or a utility lighter to ignite the candle inside the pumpkin. Be sure to place lit pumpkins well away from anything that can burn, and far enough out of the way of visiting trick or treaters using walkways and yards.
Remember to keep all exits clear of decorations so that nothing blocks escape routes. Tell children to stay away from open flames and make sure they know to stop, drop, and roll if their clothing catches fire. Have kids practice by stopping immediately, dropping to the ground, covering their face with their hands, and rolling over and over to put the flames out.
For some people, fireworks are part of the Halloween tradition, but each year, thousands of people – usually children and teenagers between the ages of 5 and 14 – are injured while using them. Even sparklers have the potential to do great damage. The tip of a sparkler burns at a temperature of more than 648 degrees Celsius, which is hot enough to cause third degree burns.
“The safest way to enjoy fireworks is to leave them to the professionals and attend a public display,” said Barton. Children should never pick up leftover fireworks after a display, as they may still be active, she warned.
In the Township of Langley, those wishing to buy, possess, move, or set off fireworks must be 18 years of age or older, be certified as a Fireworks Supervisor by the Explosive Regulatory Division of Natural Resources Canada, and apply for a Public Fireworks Event Permit from the Township Fire Department.
The permit requires applicants to have a minimum clear area of 30 metres by 30 metres (100 by 100 feet), which means most suburban residential lots are not large enough to meet the required safety clearances. A $5,000,000 comprehensive general liability insurance policy must also be secured.
For more information, visit tol.ca/fireworks