Don't let your Halloween become truly terrifying

24 October 2011

Two firefighters holding a pumpkin

Halloween is a great chance for children and adults alike to let their hair down and celebrate. However, it also has its dangers.

Candles and homemade Jack-O-Lanterns made from hollowed pumpkins with candles inside can add to the celebrations, but can also be dangerous. If the candle tips over, or something brushes past, it could set light costumes, curtains or even hair and start a serious fire.

A good alternative to candles are electronic tea-lights which you can buy from garden centres. These have a small battery fitted instead of a flame. These can be fitted inside a Jack-O-Lantern or placed on a table and are just as effective at creating an atmosphere, but much safer than a candle.

Andy Tucker, Risk Manager for Cambridgeshire Fire and Rescue Service, said: "Firefighters want residents living in Cambridgeshire to have fun this Halloween, but they also want people to be aware of the dangers of using candles and to be vigilant when using them."

How to use candles safely

  • Never leave candles unattended or go to sleep while they are lit
  • Leave plenty of space above and around the candle and its holder
  • Place candles in a draught-free area away from curtains, furniture and other flammable surfaces
  • Always use a proper candle-holder and fit the candle in firmly
  • Make sure it is put on a surface that is flat and stable - this is particularly important when using a candle inside a Jack-O-Lantern
  • Always use a heat-resistant surface to place the candle holder on - eg a ceramic plate, especially for night-light candles
  • Never place candles directly on televisions or other polished surfaces
  • Keep candles out of reach of children and pets
  • Never attempt to move a candle once it is lit
  • Always use a candle-snuffer, or an upturned metal spoon to extinguish the candle and allow cooling before moving it
  • A good alternative to candles are electronic tea-lights which you can buy from garden centres. These have a small battery fitted instead of a flame. They are just as effective at creating an atmosphere, but much safer than a candle.

Choosing the right candle for your Jack-O-Lantern

  • Oil-burning, liquid candles last longer, but these do not extinguish themselves, so it is crucial that these are not left unattended
  • Votive candles placed in clear, heat-proof holders are safer and also have a longer life span than traditional candles, with white candles giving off the most light
  • There are safer alternatives to candles, such as glo-sticks or battery operated tea lights.

If you do nothing else to protect your home and your family, ensure you fit a smoke alarm that has the kite mark and conforms to British Standard 5446 (Part 1). Test the smoke alarm at least once a week by pressing the test button and know the life span of your battery - mark your calendar as a reminder to replace it.