Creating a spooky Halloween mood often relies on great lighting effects in your home and yard. Glowing jack-o-lanterns, flickering luminaries, and strategically placed uplighting are all classic fare.

But they can also pose a fire threat. The National Fire Protection Association estimates that Halloween decorations cause approximately 800 house fires per year, totaling $11 million in property damage. And that’s not counting the injuries sustained when flammable costumes meet heat sources or open flames.

Here are some do’s and don’ts to make your Halloween safer — without giving up on the spookiness!



Many decorations are flammable due to materials or the use of candles and other heat elements. In fact, . Make sure yours pass the safety check:

Jack-o-Lanterns – These are the ubiquitous, favorite Halloween decoration of most households.

    • DON’T use a candle as your lighting feature. The pumpkin can easily be tipped over and catch its surroundings on fire, whether that’s dry brush or a porch outside, or upholstery or carpeting inside.
    • DO use an LED light, glow stick, or electric candle instead.

Flammable decorations – These can light up in an instant, igniting from live flames as well as heat sources like heaters and light bulbs.

    • DON’T use cornstalks, hay bales, dried flowers, or crepe paper. And don’t put flammable decorations in the path of exits, which creates a serious obstruction risk in case your family needs to exit quickly.
    • DO use flame-resistant or non-flammable materials wherever possible. Avoid having a wood-burning fire inside if it may become unattended due to holiday commotion or trick or treaters. Outside, have a hose and buckets of water ready for any outdoor emergencies.

Paper bag luminaries – Another holiday mainstay, these decorations give a warm, welcoming lighted pathway up to a house.

    • DON’T use live candles. Paper bags are extremely flammable and are prone to tip over with just a slight breeze.
    • DO use an electric candle instead which, even if tipped over, won’t cause any damage.

Candles – More than a third of Halloween home fires each year are started by a candle. A live flame is never safe – inside, outside or anywhere.

    • DON’T use candles for any holiday decorations.
    • DO use electric candles or LED lights instead. Just doing a Google search on “LED lights Halloween” will bring up a range of options for creative, fun ways to give a spooky lighting effect.



Unfortunately, a lot of Halloween costumes pose a fire hazard. Follow these tips to keep you and your family safe.

    • Only choose flame retardant materials.
    • Avoid costumes that are bulky or billowy or have long trailing fabric.
    • Teach kids to stay away from open flames, including jack-o-lanterns and luminaries, while they’re trick-or-treating.
    • Give them glow sticks or flashlights to light their way on the big night.
    • If your child’s costume has a mask, make sure the eye holes are large enough so she/he can easily see out of it.
    • Review “Stop! Drop! And Roll!” with your kids, making sure everyone understands and passes a practice round.

Final Reminders

Make sure well ahead of time that all your fire and smoke alarms are working and ready. Also, remember that even if you take fire-safety steps, your neighbors might not – and if their home catches fire, yours could be imperiled. Review these fire safety tips from firefighters, and update your family’s evacuation plan, just to be on the safe side.

By following Halloween fire safety precautions, you can make this scariest night of the year all about the fun kind of scary instead of the bad kind of scary.



This article is furnished by California Casualty, providing auto and home insurance to educators, law enforcement officers, firefighters, and nurses. Get a quote at 1.866.704.8614 or


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