Firefighters urge extra care with candles, flames

Halloween is just around the corner, and as families get ready to celebrate this fun and spooky time of year, there is one thing they may want to do without: candles.

“Decorations are the first thing to ignite in hundreds of home fires each year,” said Township of Langley public fire and life safety educator Krista Barton. “Statistics show that two of every five of those were started by a candle.”

To keep Halloween safe, the Township Fire Department strongly advises residents to forgo open flames. 

Instead, use flashlights or battery-operated candles in jack o’lanterns and for decorating, and opt for torch lights when illuminating walkways and yards.

“They are much safer for trick-or-treaters, whose costumes may brush against the lighting,” said Barton.

If you do chose to go with candles, use extreme caution and keep them away from children and anything that can burn. Light candles inside jack o’lanterns with long utility lighters or fireplace-style matches and place lit pumpkins out of the way of trick-or-treaters coming into yards, walkways, and doorsteps.

Those who are dressing up should avoid billowing or long trailing fabric that may come into contact with flames, and children should be taught to “stop, drop, and roll,” should their clothing catch fire. “Have them practice stopping immediately, dropping to the ground, covering their face with their hands, and rolling over and over to put the flames out,” Barton said. 

Children – and anyone out and about on Halloween night – should carry flashlights or glow sticks to enhance their visibility. When wearing a mask, ensure the eye holes are large enough to properly see out of.

When decorating, keep items well away from open flames and heat sources, including light bulbs and heaters. 

“Dried flowers, cornstalks, and crepe paper are highly flammable,” Barton said, and reminding residents to keep exits clear of decorations, so nothing blocks fire escape routes. 

Fireworks are a fun Halloween tradition, but something the Fire Department says should be left to professionals.

“The safest way to enjoy fireworks is to attend a public display,” said Barton. 

Children should never pick up leftover fireworks after a display as they might still be active, she warned, noting that the risk of suffering from a firework-related injury is highest for children aged five to 14.

Even sparklers have the potential to do great damage. The tip of a sparkler burns at more than 648 degrees Celsius, hot enough to cause third degree burns.

Those who want to buy, own, move, or ignite fireworks in the Township of Langley must be aged 18 or older, be certified by the Explosive Regulatory Division of Natural Resources Canada as a fireworks supervisor, and apply for a Public Fireworks Event Permit from the Township Fire Department.

Those seeking permits must have a minimum clear area of 30 metres by 30 metres (100 by 100 feet), which means most suburban residential lots are not large enough to meet the required safety clearances. 

A $5-million comprehensive general liability insurance policy must also be secured.

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