Posted by Salvatore J. Zambri, founding partner
Underwriters Laboratories (UL), the leading product safety testing organization, offers safety tips for keeping Halloween traditions safe. Since Halloween has become the second most “decorated” holiday, improperly-used decorations and potentially flammable costumes contribute to the increase in home fires and burn-related injuries. According to John Drengenberg, consumer safety director for UL, “The most important Halloween trick is to keep safety top-of-mind. With 41 million trick-or-treaters expected to be out and about on Halloween night, following UL’s safety tips can help families make Halloween scary for the right reasons.”
We have reproduced below common-sense and easy-to-follow Halloween safety guidelines published by Underwriters Laboratories.
“Safe and Spooky Home Decorating
- Don’t Frankenstein Your Lights: When purchasing electrical decorations, make sure to shop at a reputable retailer and look for the UL Mark. Don’t plug in electrical decorations that draw more watts than the rating of the cord. Use special, heavy duty extension cords for high wattage decorations such as fog machines and electrically-powered inflatable decorations.
- Inspect Decorations with Fiendish Care: Look for loose connections, frayed or bare wires, and broken or cracked sockets when using lights to decorate the home for Halloween. When hanging lights, use plastic hooks or clips to reduce the risk of electric shock and fire hazards. Never nail or staple light strings. Look for a red UL Mark to indicate that lights are certified for both indoor and outdoor use. A green UL Mark indicates certification for indoor use only.
- Beware of Candles: According to the NFPA, candles are the cause of approximately 15,000 reported house fires every year. To help prevent avoidable accidents, place candles far from decorations, window treatments and paper to avoid potential home fires. Candles, especially in a jack-o-lantern, should be off the ground and out of children’s reach. Try battery-operated LED candles for an even safer option.
- Light the Way for Trick-or-Treaters: Place lights on the outside edge of walkways and make sure all decorations are clear of where kids will be walking. Decorations that obstruct a walkway could potentially cause eager trick-or-treaters to trip or fall. Avoid using candles to light your walkway.
- Clear the Cobwebs and Look for the UL Mark: When stringing up those skeleton and pumpkin decorations, check for the UL Mark on light strings, electrical decorations and extension cords. The UL Mark means the product has been found free of foreseeable hazards and is safer for your family.
Safe and Spooky Costumes
- Say Boo! To Unsafe Costumes: Look for fire-resistant or flame-retardant materials – such as nylon – when purchasing costumes, fabric and accessories. Although these labels do not mean these items are fire-proof, it does indicate the fabric will resist burning and should extinguish quickly once removed from the ignition source.
- Don’t Trip up Your Goblins: Avoid costumes made with flimsy materials and outfits with big, baggy sleeves or billowing skirts, which could increase the risk of tripping and are more likely to come in contact with candles or other ignition sources.
- Unmask Your Little Ghouls: Try to avoid outfitting your children in masks and instead use face paint. Masks can obstruct vision, and children may find it hard to breathe when wearing them. If a mask is used, make sure it fits securely and has eyeholes large enough to allow full vision.
- Be Safe and Bright: Light and bright fabrics will be clearly visible to motorists. If your children do wear dark materials, decorate costumes with reflective tape or carry a flashlight
I have encouraged readers of my blog to enjoy Halloween safely. As a father of four, I know how wonderful the holiday can be. As a personal injury lawyer, I also know how tragic it can become. Please take precautions to have a fun and safe holiday.
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About the author:
Mr. Zambri is a board-certified civil trial attorney by the National Board of Trial Advocates and a Past-President of the Trial Lawyers Association of Metropolitan Washington, D.C. He has been rated by Washingtonian magazine as a “Big Gun” and among the “top 1%” of all lawyers in the Washington metropolitan area. The magazine also describes him as “one of Washington’s best–most honest and effective lawyers” who specializes in personal injury matters, including automobile accident claims, premises liability, product liability, medical malpractice, and work-accident claims. He has successfully litigated multiple cases against truck and bus companies, the Washington Metropolitan Area transit Authority, and other automobile owners. His law firm, in fact, has obtained the largest settlement ever in a personal injury case involving WMATA. Mr. Zambri has also been acknowledged as one of “The Best Lawyers in America” by Best Lawyers (2011 edition) and has been repeatedly named a “Super Lawyer” by Super Lawyer magazine (March/April 2010)– national publications that honor the top lawyers in America.
If you have any questions about your legal rights, please email Mr. Zambri at [email protected] or call him at 202-822-1899.