Have fun, be safe this Halloween

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(U.S. Air Force photo/Tech. Sgt. Martie Moore)

SCHRIEVER AIR FORCE BASE, Colo.  — When I was a kid, my favorite character and what I dressed up as for Halloween was this homemade Godzilla costume my mom made.  It wasn’t anything extraordinary as the costumes in today’s world are, but I was a huge Godzilla fan and it was something “unique” in my small town (what can I say, I’m a trendsetter).   This costume was quite cumbersome.  I remember stumbling from house to house and going to the local school for the costume contests.  I didn’t care how hard it was to see or move because I actually won a few prizes for having a costume that no one else had.

The year I joined the military, I remember a newspaper clip my mom sent me right after technical school.  A little girl was out trick-or-treating in a “unique” costume.  She wanted to be a princess fairy, so her mom bought her this elaborate costume with long flowing pieces.  As she was trick-or-treating, she stood too close to an old fashioned jack-o-lantern, one with a real candle inside.  The long flowing parts of her dress caught fire, and caused some pretty significant burns on her legs and back.  I thought back to that old Godzilla costume I had…what if I had gotten too close to something like that?  As big as my costume was, I would have been in real trouble.  I could barely see and Godzilla had a huge tail, of course.  That same scenario very easily could have happened to me. Having burns and a trip to the emergency room during Halloween would not have made my “unique” costume worth the effort.

I wouldn’t want anything like that to happen to any child, so I did some research to share with you and your family on how to stay fire safe this Halloween.  By following some simple safety precautions from the National Fire Protection Association, you can help ensure a day of safe fun for your family and trick-or-treaters.

Here are a few safety tips from NFPA to keep everyone safe this Halloween:
— When choosing a costume, stay away from billowing or long trailing fabric. If you are making your own costume, choose material that won’t easily ignite if it comes into contact with heat or flame. If your child is wearing a mask, make sure the eye holes are large enough so they can clearly see out of them.

— Provide children with flashlights to carry for lighting or glow sticks as part of their costume.

— 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.

— It is safest to use a glow stick or battery-operated candle in a jack-o-lantern. If you use a real candle, use extreme caution. Make sure children are watched at all times when candles are lit. When lighting candles inside jack-o-lanterns, use long fireplace-style matches or a utility lighter. If you choose to use candle decorations, make sure to keep them well attended at all times.

— Remember to keep exits clear of decorations, so nothing blocks escape routes.