How to celebrate safely this Halloween and Bonfire Night

Autumn's festivities are nearly upon us so now’s the ideal time to remind yourself and others about how to stay safe.
Glowing halloween faces cut out of pumpkins.

Despite most kids and adults enjoying Halloween and Bonfire Night safely, every year there are reports of accidents and injuries involving stray fireworks and burns from candles or bonfires.

Two years ago TV presenter Claudia Winkleman’s daughter suffered serious burns after her fancy dress costume caught fire as she walked past a lit candle.

Read our top tips below for staying safe in your home and while you’re out and about.

Halloween

Candles

Candles and lanterns can easily be knocked over so consider safer LED alternatives.

If you do decide to use them take extra care to:

ALWAYS keep candles out of reach of pets and children.

ALWAYS use a suitable heat resistant container and place naked flames on a stable surface.

ALWAYS check candles are properly extinguished.

NEVER place candles near curtains, fabrics or furniture and keep them away from draughts.

NEVER place candles close together, allow at least 10cm between them.

NEVER leave candles unattended.

Halloween costumes

ALWAYS make sure Halloween costumes and masks are labelled flame-resistant and if making costumes at home ensure you don't use flammable materials.

REMIND kids if their clothing catches fire to "stop, drop and roll" (stop what they’re doing, drop to the ground and roll around to extinguish the flames.)

Pumpkins

Here are some tips if you plan to create a spooky pumpkin for your party or to display in your window:

Draw your pattern on your pumpkin first.

Use a specially designed pumpkin tool, not a sharp knife. Carve your pumpkin in a well-lit area on a flat surface.

Use a battery operated tealight instead of a real flame.

Trick or treat

We’d never want to dampen the excitement of children when it’s time to head out trick or treating (or adults!) but it’s worth reminding them and yourself of the following:

ALWAYS carry a torch or glowstick and if walking along an unlit road wear something bright or reflective.

ALWAYS check treats before you eat them and ensure the packaging hasn’t been tampered with.

ALWAYS pre-plan your route and tell an adult where you’re going and what time you’ll be back.

ALWAYS be considerate, it's etiquette to only call at homes displaying a pumpkin or lantern.

NEVER knock at houses displaying ‘No Trick or Treat’ signs.

NEVER let small children carry lanterns lit by naked flames as the handles can get extremely hot or the child could slip.

NEVER go into a stranger’s house or get in a stranger’s car.

NEVER wear something that restricts your vision too much and bear in mind that face paint is better than a mask.

If you plan to stay in on Halloween:

If you live alone, are concerned about Trick or Treaters knocking on your door or you have over-excitable pets, here are some things you can do to keep safe and calm:

If you’d prefer to have no visitors, place a ‘No Trick or Treat Thank you’ sign on your door.

You can download and print these from your local police force’s website.

When you answer the door be polite and don’t forget children will often have an adult with them, so they’re unlikely to be up to mischief.

If your pet tends to get over-excited at the sound of the doorbell, ask him to sit and reward him with a treat when the doorbell goes. After the first few rings he’ll soon get the message.

And last but not least ... keep any chocolate for trick or treaters out of reach of dogs as it’s poisonous to them. Check your driveway or path the next morning just in case any chocolates were dropped in the dark!

Bonfire night safety

ALWAYS build bonfires well away from your house, shed, fences and trees.

ALWAYS keep a bucket of water or hose nearby in case of an emergency.

NEVER use petrol or ANY flammable liquid to start a bonfire and don't burn dangerous items such as aerosol cans, furniture or batteries.

NEVER leave the bonfire unattended and keep children and pets at a safe distance.

Fireworks

ALWAYS keep fireworks in a closed box and follow the instructions carefully.

ALWAYS respect your neighbours – let them know you’re having a party and don’t let off fireworks late at night.

ALWAYS light fireworks at arm’s length using a taper and stand well back.

ALWAYS take care with sparklers and never give them to children under five. Even when they've gone out they're still extremely hot so have a bucket of water nearby for safe disposal.

NEVER go back to a lit firework. Even if it's not fired, it could still explode.

NEVER throw fireworks and don't put them in your pockets.

NEVER drink alcohol if handling fireworks.

Bonfire night and your pet

Always keep pets indoors throughout the evening and if you've got a dog they’ll love this calming video.

(First published on 09/10/2014)

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