CPSC Warns: Don’t Be Haunted by Burn and Laceration Hazards this Halloween

October 28, 2009
Release Number: 10-028

Soon the ghouls and goblins of Halloween night will prowl neighborhood streets in search of treats. The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) wants to ensure that candle flames from jack-o-lanterns, decorative obstacles on the porch or lawn, and sharp edges on costumes and accessories don’t keep kids from enjoying this annual tradition of trick-or-treating.

Incidents involving burns from flammable costumes and lacerations related to pumpkin carving lead the list of Halloween-related injuries.

“Using inherently flame-resistant fabrics in home-made costumes and using battery-operated candles when decorating the house for Halloween can help keep children safe,” said CPSC Chairman Inez Tenenbaum.

Make this year’s holiday a safe one by following a few simple safety tips:

Costumes

-When purchasing costumes, masks, beards and wigs, look for flame-resistant fabrics such as nylon or polyester, or look for the label "Flame Resistant." Flame-resistant fabrics will resist burning and should extinguish quickly. To minimize the risk of contact with candles and other fire sources, avoid costumes made with flimsy materials and outfits with big, baggy sleeves or billowing skirts.

-Purchase or make costumes that are light, bright and clearly visible to motorists.

-For greater visibility during dusk and darkness, decorate or trim costumes with reflective tape that will glow in the beam of a car's headlights. Bags or sacks also should be light-colored or decorated with reflective tape. Reflective tape is usually available in hardware, bicycle and sporting goods stores.

-Children should carry flashlights to see and be seen.

-Costumes should fit well and not drag on the ground to guard against trips and falls.

-Children should wear well-fitting, sturdy shoes. Oversized high heels are not a good idea.

-Tie hats and scarves securely to prevent them from slipping over children's eyes and obstructing their vision.

-If your child wears a mask, make sure it fits securely, provides adequate ventilation, and has eye holes large enough to allow full vision.

-Swords, knives and similar costume accessories should be made of soft, flexible material.

Treats

-Warn children not to eat any treats before an adult has examined them carefully for evidence of tampering.

-Carefully examine any toys or novelty items received by trick-or-treaters under three years of age. Do not allow young children to have any items that are small enough to present a choking hazard or that have small parts or components that could separate during use and present a choking hazard.

Decorations

-Keep candles and jack-o'-lanterns away from landings and doorsteps where costumes could brush against the flame.

-Remove obstacles from lawns, steps and porches when expecting trick-or-treaters.

-Indoors, keep candles and jack-o'-lanterns away from curtains, decorations and other items that could ignite. Do not leave burning candles unattended.

-Indoors or outside, use only lights that have been tested for safety by a recognized testing laboratory. Check each set of lights, new or old, for broken or cracked sockets, frayed or bare wires, or loose connections. Discard damaged sets.

-Don't overload extension cords.