Keeping safety in mind when prepping for Halloween

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LANSING, Mich. (WILX) - It's the week to deck out your home in spider webs and spooky skeletons, orange lights and glowing pumpkins.

But, these harmless decorations can also be scary fire hazards.

The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) offers simple, safety precautions for a fire-free holiday.

“Halloween is an exciting day for trick-or-treating, costume-wearing and creative home decorating,” said Lorraine Carli, NFPA’s vice president of Outreach and Advocacy. “These activities do present potential fire hazards, however, so it’s important to keep safety in mind when preparing for the holiday.”

According to NFPA statistics, between 2012 and 2016, decorations were the item first ignited in an estimated average of 800 reported home structure fires per year, resulting in an average of two civilian deaths, 34 civilian injuries and $11 million in direct property damage. The decoration was too close to a heat source such as a candle or equipment in two of every five (42 percent) of these fires.

Try these recommendations when keeping safety in mind on Halloween:
• Costumes: When choosing a costume, stay away from billowing or long-trailing fabric. If you are making your own costume, choose material that won’t easily ignite if it comes into contact with heat or flame.
• Visibility: Provide children with flashlights to carry for lighting or glow sticks as part of their costumes. If your child is wearing a mask, make sure the eye holes are large enough so he/she can see clearly out of it.
• Flammable decorations: Dried flowers, cornstalks and crepe paper are highly flammable. Keep these and other decorations well away from all open flames and heat sources, including light bulbs and heaters.
• Candles/jack-o-lanterns: It is safest to use a glow stick or battery-operated candle in a jack-o-lantern. If you use a real candle, use extreme caution. When lighting candles inside jack-o-lanterns, use long fireplace-style matches or a utility lighter. If you choose to use candle decorations, make sure to keep them well attended at all times. Do not leave them near flammable objects or where trick-or-treaters may walk. Remind your children to avoid open flames. Make sure children are watched at all times when candles are lit.
• Exits: Remember to keep exits clear of decorations, so nothing blocks escape routes.

If you're looking for some tips on kids activities or even pumpkin-carving templates, check out Sparky the Fire Dog's website.