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Fire Prevention Week to Halloween 2017 — and every day in between

Fire-ED taking the hurt out of Halloween

It is Halloween 2017 so for you will it be BOO or BOO HOO!?

Yes it is the time of year, Halloween 2017,  when the evil of witches and goblins surface from dust bunnies in our home closets and light up our lives. Hoping not [light us up] due to carelessness in fire safety.

Take a BOO at the Calendar in life again for this October, we just had a full Fire Prevention Week of education. Unlike all traditional holiday events, fire prevention and education does not end in a mere seven days or less. It moves forward. And now, a new year and another safety awareness campaign is before us all again, that is in HALLOWEEN 2017 FIRE SAFETY, and Learning how NOT to become victims of fire and preventable burn injuries.

All public safety agencies and fire departments are constantly being tested by All Hallows’ Eve events across the land. Not just in getting everyone home safely, but hopefully in teaching everyone about the real risks of fires and what is EXTREMELY flammable in our world. Costumes, of all shapes and sizes!

So in your community is Halloween 2017 going to be just BOO (like in scary and fun) or BOO HOO like in sad because someone got badly burned, or died, due to the lack of fire and life safety knowledge?

Fire safety should not stop at fire prevention week the Fire-ED Interactive Community moves forward on a day to day basis offering great resources and materials. Fire-ED supports traditional public safety campaigns giving extra comfort in knowing that fire and life safety education can prevent a cauldron of hurt and worries all year long.

It’s a scary goulish thought when folks don’t realize that great costume or clothing article they are wearing can melt and drip and stick to the skin. At Halloween especially people loose sight and do not read manufacture warning labels noted on the costume packages.  Add costumed children to the mix, and the dangers compound. People forget that flowy princess dresses and long superhero capes can easily brush by a flame and accidentally catch fire or melt quickly making it difficult and dangerous to remove.

ALL clothing — not just children’s costumes — must pass CFR 1610, the legal standard for clothing flammability

So have you ever covered or talked with your community members about Halloween standards in clothing?  Well the Federal Governments have in North America.  But just because a fabric passes the Federal flammability standard does not mean it’s flame resistant.

Unfortunately, there’s no way to tell if a fabric will be flammable just by looking at it, but to be on the safe side. Avoid fabrics melting to skin by wearing base layers to create a barrier between synthetic costumes and the skin.

Often times children’s costumes are the outer layer and this is a good measure as synthetic fibers can melt and drip and stick to the skin. So the safest bet is to wear base layers like 100% cotton, denim or wool under the synthetic costumes. In my career I have pulled people out of fire events where they had great fire protection on the outside but the undergarments caught on fire and melted to the body.  Hence why in first aid you never take burnt clothes off a patient at the site because skin and cloths weld together.  In the burn units the garments are soaked off.

So be careful with costumes and decorations at all costs. Even if your home doesn’t use candles for your jack-o’-lanterns and your kids know to stay away from open flames, there’s still a huge risk when children are running from door to door clad in long capes, flowing fabrics, and princess dresses. We cannot stress this information or share it enough! Too many people do not realize that the fabric used for these costumes, especially the ones that are store-bought, can also be extremely flammable and put your child at risk. 

And check that any costumes comply with fire safety regulations by checking the garment’s label before purchasing.

Cheaper outfits sold online or from less well known brands, are more likely to be counterfeit and could burn quickly if they catch fire.

Follow these Health Canada tips to ensure your children are dressed appropriately for Halloween

  • Look for costumes and accessories such as beards, wigs, wings and tails that are labelled flame-resistant. Flowing skirts and capes, baggy sleeves and over-sized costumes can all be hazards around candles or flames.
  • Nylon or heavyweight polyester costumes are best. Remember, flame-resistant does not mean fire-proof.
  • Pick brightly coloured costumes that can be clearly seen by motorists. Add reflective tape to the costume to increase visibility.
  • Use make-up or face paint instead of masks – improperly fitted masks can interfere with your child’s vision or breathing.
  • Before using face paint or make-up, do a patch test to see if your child is sensitive or allergic to something in the cosmetic. Even products labelled as “hypoallergenic” can still cause allergic reactions.
  • If you do choose a mask, make sure it fits properly and allows them to see and breathe easily.
  • Do not use contact lenses that change eye colour or create special effects because they can cause injury to a child’s eyes.
  • Avoid costumes that are too big or have long dangling pieces that children can trip over.
  • Ensure that toy weapons and similar accessories are made of soft or flexible material. Hard or rigid costume accessories can cause accidents.
  • Choose costumes that fit well and can be worn over warm clothing to protect your child against cold and wet weather.

Most kids know to Stop, Drop and Roll if their clothes catch on fire. It’s preferable to the alternative of running around and fanning the flames to make them worse. A better way to put out clothes on fire would be to wrap the child in a natural fiber blanket (cotton or wool – NOT polyester or synthetic) and then smother the flames with the child on the ground…. but there really isn’t a good Halloween rhyme for that. Terry Penney

Terry Penney avatar

Oh I’m just a simple safety janitor in life. I clean up the messes and try to keep things running so folks get home safely. On top of 30 years law enforcement service, a past life in the reserves as a commissioned officer, plus training and volunteer fire service, 18 years as fire chief and paramedic. I have taught world wide and to all age groups in life. From kids to adults to grand parents and with a common goal everyone is going home safe regardless if they are working or in school or retired. From Dangerous goods, to fire safety and prevention to why incident investigation are critical to PREVENTION not punishment and finger pointing. And all those small initials at the back of my name have NEVER saved a single person, but they have made folks go home to loved ones and not the morgue.

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