While Halloween is a holiday to celebrate with fancy dress, trick-or-treating and games, it’s important to be vigilant of the potential safety risks posed to children during the spooky season.
October is one of the busiest times of the year for the Northern Ireland Fire and Rescue Service (NIFRS), who attended 100 emergency incidents last year - a reported 15% increase from the previous Halloween.
A spokesperson added that 59% of the emergency calls received by NIFRS on Halloween 2020 were made after 6pm.
Group commander Suzanne Fleming said it is “concerning” that the majority of fires attended by the service were set deliberately.
“Please don’t put extra pressure on us by starting fires deliberately, and if you’re using extra fire hazards at this time of year - such as candles, sparklers and fireworks - please follow our safety advice,” she continued.
“If you’re deciding to use fireworks then please keep in mind that they are a fire hazard and can set fire to buildings and clothing.
"The explosive force of a firework can also cause serious injury, particularly to your hands and face. Only light them outside, in an open space, and keep children well away from them.”
The most recent data gathered on firework injury statistics gathered by the Department of Health was released in 2015.
The report revealed that of the 15 persons injured by fireworks, 13 were aged under 18.
NIFRS also advised that fancy dress costumes can be highly flammable, and so it’s important to make sure children are properly supervised at all times; and are kept away from fireworks or open flames.
"It’s a good idea to swap out candles for battery operated lights,” added Suzanne.
"If a costume catches fire remember STOP, DROP and ROLL to quickly put the flames out.
“Without proper supervision sparklers can cause serious injury. Never give them to children under the age of five, and wear gloves when using them, preferably leather gloves.”
Parents can be more aware of possible fancy dress risks by checking that all costumes purchased carry a UKNI and CE or a CE mark on the label.
NIFRS, Health Minister Robin Swann and Causeway Coast and Glens Borough Council’s Environmental Health Department have advised the public across Northern Ireland to follow the below Halloween safety advice:
• It is compulsory for anyone wishing to buy or use fireworks to obtain a license. More info can be found here- www.nidirect.gov.uk/articles/fireworks.
• Only buy fireworks marked with a CE mark – this shows fireworks meet European Safety Standards.
• Don’t drink alcohol if setting off fireworks.
• Keep fireworks in a closed box when not in use and keep away from ignition sources.
• Follow the manufacturer’s advice on each firework and use them one at a time.
• Light them at arm’s length using a taper. Stand well back.
• Never go near a firework that has been lit, even if it hasn’t gone off as it could still explode.
• Never put fireworks in your pocket or throw them.
• Always supervise children around fireworks.
• Keep pets and animals indoors – the flames and noise upset them.
• Don’t set off noisy fireworks late at night and never after 11pm.
If lit candles are part of your celebrations always follow their safety guidelines, and remember:
• Always supervise children and pets if using lit candles
• Do not allow children to carry, play, reach over, light or be near lit candles
• Never leave a burning candle unattended
• Remember always to extinguish a candle completely after use
• Take care when using candles at Halloween. Do not carry pumpkins with lit candles inside, consider using battery-operated candles instead
• Children should always be supervised by a suitable adult
• Be aware that homemade fancy dress costumes or those not tested to the same flammability standards may ignite easily and burn quicker
• Ensure children can be seen in the dark - ideally, they should wear something reflective such as a reflective strip and carry a torch.