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October 29, 2010
Halloween safety tips from Toronto Fire Services
Halloween can be a fun and exciting time for children. Halloween this year is on Sunday, October 31.

"Make this Halloween a treat," says Toronto's Fire Chief, William Stewart. "Don't let your children be tricked by hidden dangers."

Before Halloween:
• Plan costumes that are bright and reflective. Consider adding reflective tape or striping to costumes and trick-or-treat bags for greater visibility.
• Make sure that shoes fit well and that costumes are short enough to prevent tripping, entanglement or any contact with flame.
• Secure children's emergency identification (name, address, phone number) discreetly within Halloween attire or on a bracelet.
• Consider non-toxic and hypo-allergenic makeup or a decorative hat as a safe alternative to a mask. Masks can limit or block eyesight, which can be dangerous.
• When shopping for costumes, wigs and accessories purchase only those with a label indicating they are flame resistant.
• Buy flame-resistant costumes. (Check the label.) Reduce the risk of contact with candles or other ignition sources by avoiding baggy pants, loose frills, or billowing skirts.
• Think twice before including simulated knives, guns or swords as part of a costume. If such props must be used, be certain they do not appear authentic and that they are soft and flexible, to help prevent injury.
• Plan ahead to use only battery-powered lanterns or chemical light sticks in place of candles in decorations and costumes.
• Take extra effort to eliminate tripping hazards on your porch and walkway. Items such as flower pots, low tree limbs, sprinklers or garden hoses may prove hazardous to young children rushing from house to house.
• Teach children their home phone number and to how call 9-1-1 (or their local emergency number) if they have an emergency or become lost. Remind them that they can call 9-1-1 for free from any public phone.
• Teach children to "Stop, Drop and Roll" if their clothing catches fire: Stop immediately; Drop to the ground covering the face; Roll over-and-over to extinguish the flames.

With Halloween and other holidays coming up, this is a great time to buy fresh batteries and install them in your home's smoke detectors.

On Halloween Day:
• Eat a good meal prior to parties and trick-or-treating to help discourage youngsters from filling up on Halloween treats.
• Agree on a specific time when children must return home.
• Consider fire safety when decorating.
• Do not overload electrical outlets with holiday lighting or special effects, and do not block exit doors.
• While children can help with the fun of designing a jack-o-lantern, leave the carving to adults. Keep jack-o-lanterns and hot electric lamps far away from drapes, decorations, flammable materials or areas where children and pets will be standing or walking.
• Keep jack-o-lanterns and decorations fire-safe by using only battery-powered flashlights or chemical light sticks instead of candles.
• Keep candles, matches and lighters out of the reach of children. If you use candles in jack-o-lanterns, try a tea light or votive candle in a non-combustible holder. Place candlelit jack-o-lanterns on sturdy tables away from curtains and other flammable objects. Never leave candles unattended.
• Keep exit doors unobstructed and make sure outdoor lights are working.
• Confine or otherwise prepare household pets for an evening of frightful sights and sounds. Be sure that all dogs and cats are wearing collars and proper identification tags.

When trick-or-treating:
You should accompany children when they go out trick-or-treating. Other tips:
• Only trick-or-treat in well known areas that are well lit.
• Provide every child with a flashlight and fresh batteries. Remind them of traffic safety rules and that they should cross streets at corners and never cross between parked cars.
• Only go to houses that have the porch lights on and never go inside.
• Always walk on available sidewalks.
• In the case where there is no sidewalk, walk close to the edge of the street or on the grass area (not across residents lawns) facing the on-coming traffic.
• When crossing a street, remove all masks or wigs that will interfere with your vision.
• Don't forget to obey all traffic and pedestrian regulations when walking across the street.
• Remind your children to never enter a stranger’s house or car for a treat, and to not to eat any collected candy until an adult has checked it at home in the light.

Notify police immediately of any suspicious or unlawful activity.

Decorations for special events, most often involving candles, account for an average of 800 home fires annually in North America, in addition to the property damage. Additionally, more than 100 people die each year in North America as a result of their clothing becoming ignited.

In case of fire or other emergency, call 9-1-1.

Toronto is Canada's largest city and sixth largest government, and home to a diverse population of about 2.6 million people. It is the economic engine of Canada and one of the greenest and most creative cities in North America. Toronto has won numerous awards for quality, innovation and efficiency in delivering public services. Toronto's government is dedicated to prosperity, opportunity and liveability for all its residents. For information about non-emergency City services and programs, Toronto residents, businesses and visitors can dial 311, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Media contact:
Toronto Fire Services media line, 416-338-0763



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