NJ Department of Community Affairs, Children and Families
Offer ‘Trick or Treat’ Child Safety Tips

Experts Advise Taking Proper Precautions for a Safe and Fun Halloween

TRENTON, N.J. – Halloween can be a fun and spooky time of year for kids. But to ensure that the festivities remain enjoyable and safe for trick-or-treaters and party guests alike, proper safety measures should be taken, even before Halloween arrives.

The Department of Community Affairs’ Division of Fire Safety – along with the Department of Children and Families - encourages children and parents to take a few simple safety precautions to reduce risks and avoid injuries during Halloween, where hidden dangers also come in disguise.

“On Halloween, there's an added risk of significant fires and burn-related injuries, simply because candles can ignite costumes and decorations,” said DCA Commissioner Lori Grifa. “Decorations are the first thing to catch fire in more than 1,000 reported home fires each year on Halloween and more than half are started by candles.”

Halloween is the fifth highest day of the year for candle fires, according to the National Fire Protection Association. For the sake of safety, authorities advise choosing alternatives to burning candles such as using flashlights, battery-operated candles or electric lights. Use flashlights in pumpkins rather than candles and keep holiday decorations, such as dried cornstalks, away from heat and open flames.

Now that darkness falls much earlier, DCF is reminding parents and caregivers to adequately supervise children, especially during Halloween trick-or-treating time.
“It is so important for parents to stick to a few basic safety rules – such as planning your entire route ahead of time, being cautious of strangers and unfamiliar areas, and making sure children never trick-or-treat alone,” said DCF Commissioner Allison Blake.

Most importantly, DCF advises, teach children how to call 9-1-1 (or their local emergency number) if they have an emergency or become lost.

In addition, the DCA’s Division of Fire Safety urges parents to teach children how to protect themselves, should a fire ignite.

“Above all, be sure children know how to ‘stop, drop and roll’ if their clothing catches fire to smother spreading flames,” said Division of Fire Safety Acting Director William Kramer. “Have them practice stopping immediately, dropping to the ground, covering their face with hands, and rolling over and over to put the flames out.”

The DCA and DCF adds that by following these simple safety guidelines, kids and caregivers are certain to avoid any unforeseen Halloween mishaps and have a safe autumn holiday:

  • If you buy your costume, check to see if it has a label that says “Flame Resistant.” Flame Resistant means that your costume will be hard to catch on fire and if it does, the fire will go out fast.
  • If you make your costume, stay away from billowing or long trailing fabric, so that the material doesn't touch candles or other flames. If your child is wearing a mask, make sure the eye holes are large enough so they can see out.
  • Be sure to stay away from candles and jack-o'-lanterns that may be on steps and porches. If you get too close, your costume could catch fire.
  • In your own home, remember to keep exits clear of decorations, so nothing blocks escape routes.
  • Kids should never carry candles when they are trick-or-treating. Always use a flashlight or glow stick.
  • Keep candles and jack-o'-lanterns away from curtains and other decorations that can catch on fire. Dried flowers, cornstalks and crepe paper are highly flammable. Keep these and other decorations well away from all open flames and heat sources, including light bulbs, and heaters.
  • If you see kids playing with matches or lighters, tell an adult right away!

Remember, Halloween is meant to be fun and enjoyable for children of all ages. Safety should be everyone's goal, and with added precaution, the occasion can be entertaining and worry-free.