I know for some of you, the thought of not using live fire decorations on the spookiest day of the year may sound like blasphemy, but the truth is Halloween is an outdoor and active holiday that is celebrated at night. Add lit candles to the mix, and it could spell terrible accidents which could result in loss of property or death.
According to the National Fire Protection Associationís Fire Analysis and Research Division during 2003-2007 U.S. fire departments responded to an estimated average of 15,260 home structure fires started by candles per year. The NFPA said these fires caused an annual average of 166 civilian deaths, 1,289 civilian fire injuries, and $450 million in direct property damage. Wow. Gory details for a gory day.
The good news is you donít have to use fire, as there are a few decent candle-alternatives for the jack-o-lanterns youíve been eagerly waiting to put on the front porch: Electric bulbs are the first answer, but this would mean extra wires from lantern to lantern for people to trip on. Also, if youíre using compact florescent light bulbs (CFLs), which contain traces of mercury, any accidents would be unsafe. With strangers knocking on your door wanting blood and guts in the midst of your self-made haunted house, you donít want them stumbling upon an environmental disaster!
Another choice is light sticks, which are fun to use and bring an otherworldly feel to any event. However, if one breaks, be careful not to ingest it or expose the contents to ears, eyes or skin. The chemicals inside are not life threatening but do pose dangers to the body and, when disposed of, to the environment.
The best option may be lights working off batteries, preferably rechargeable ones, which wonít go in the trash the next morning. Some products you could try include:
- The Amazing Rainbow Pumpkin Light : This light works on three AAA batteries, changes seven colors and lasts over 72 hours. According to the company, itís recommended by fire departments across the US as a great substitute to candles.
- The Battery Operated Pumpkin Strobe Light: This device has five flashing bulbs, runs on two C batteries and fits right in your pumpkin.
- The GKI Bethlehem Lighting 12-Inch 18-Light Twig Rattan Pumpkin: Battery operated, it has 20 mini-lights wrapped around a twigged pumpkin, which juxtaposes nicely next to a real jack-o-lantern.
- Simple cheap flashlights: Just small enough to fit in your pumpkin.
- Battery operated flickering tea lights: No wax, no heat and no mess.
In the event that weather conditions deteriorate, battery operated lights will also be safer than electric-powered currents that could be dangerous if touched by moisture.
By keeping candles out of the picture, we avoid having to deal with a host of other risks to our loved ones. In fact, getting the entire community — or even the whole block — to abandon fire use on Halloween is a great idea.
Nevertheless, if you are planning to use fire, consider two things regarding placement: Do people, especially children, have easy access to the fire, and have you taken precautions to remove all flammable substances? Finally, if an adult isnít present, the fire should be put out completely.
This year take note that while fiery decorations may spark the devil in you, itís not about the display. On Halloween itís the spirit that counts.