It’s time to start planning for Halloween and by planning ahead, your events can be scary, fun and fire safe. According to the National Fire Protection Association nearly 1,000 home structure fires occur each year due to Halloween decorations. These fires caused an estimated average of six civilian deaths, 53 civilian injuries and $16 million in direct property damage per year.

If your unit or organization is planning to set up a Haunted House this year, you must follow established Fire Code regulations to provide a fire code compliant, fun and scary, but safe entertainment venue. Haunted Houses are classified by fire code as a “Special Amusement Building” governed by requirements for assembly occupancies. The establishment and operation of a Haunted House entertainment venue shall be approved by the Fort Bragg Fire and Emergency Services Division Fire Prevention Branch. Contact the office or go to the website provided below for a copy of fire safety requirements to set up a Haunted House and coordinate scheduling a “Special Event fire and life safety inspection.

Ensure everyone has a safe Halloween by following a few simple precautions.  Candles seem to provide a certain mystic with Halloween and therefore are most popular during this time of year, both in jack-o-lanterns and other decorations, which also leads to an increase in fires and injuries by open flames. Use of candles is strongly discouraged. There are several other products on the market that can substitute for open flamed candles such as battery operated candles and flashlights.  Decorations, like cornstalks and hay bales are highly combustible and should never be brought into the home. They, along with other decorations made of crepe paper need special consideration when used. Keep them away from all heat sources like light bulbs, heaters and open flames. You also need to keep all exits clear and always keep at least two ways available to get out. Keep the area by your doorstep and walkways free of decorations so little ones do not trip over them.

When choosing a costume, remember ready-made ones are normally fire resistant, home-made ones are not. Be careful with long, draping and billowy fabrics that can easily be dragged across an open flame and ignite. Use make-up instead of a mask. If you are wearing a mask, make sure the eye holes are large enough to see out. Use a flashlight or glow sticks for lighting and tell your children to stay away from open flames. Make sure they know how to stop, drop and roll if they do catch their clothes on fire. If your children are going to parties at their friends’ house, have them look for and plan ways out in case of an emergency.

By following these few simple safety tips you can help ensure our little monsters have a safe time trick or treating this Halloween.

For more information on this or any other fire prevention topic, contact the Fort Bragg Fire Prevention office, 432-6727 or visit their website at  http://www.bragg.army.mil/directorates/DES/FireEmergencyServices/Pages/FirePrevention.aspx.