By Paul Netter
Southern California Edison
In Southern California, there’s no business like show business, but the Halloween business is scary good too.
Surpassing even pre-pandemic levels, a record $10.6 billion expected to be spent this year on the fall celebration — including $3.6 billion on costumes and $3.4 billion on decorations. But to help ensure the safest spooky celebration, all those ghoulish costumes and decorations must be worn, installed and maintained safely to prevent electrical and fire incidents.
Southern California Edison joins fire departments and public safety officials nationwide in encouraging smart and careful decisions with electrically powered decorations, animatronics and more that create the perfect Halloween ambiance — and unnecessary hazards.
“It is crucial that you look for and, more importantly, eliminate potential hazards from your Halloween decorations and costumes,” said Nicole Kraus, senior advisor of Enterprise Risk Management & Public Safety at SCE. “For instance, damaged lights and worn cords should be replaced, costumes and decorations should be flame-resistant, and burning candles — a major fire risk — are best replaced by flameless candles. Decorations and costumes should always be chosen with safety in mind.”
That safety would clearly preclude wearing flammable, billowy, long-flowing costumes near burning candles or jack-o’-lanterns illuminated by them. The same applies to those candles near highly flammable decorations like skeletons and ghosts. With California in peak wildfire season and nearly half of the estimated 800 annual home decoration fires beginning with décor too close to a heat source, flameless candles and glow sticks are safest for enhancing any decorations.
Decorators outdoors on rooftops and ladders should always beware of power lines, staying at least 10 feet away from them when placing light strands or cords onto homes or into trees or vegetation. Candles and power lines are only two of the many potential problems posed by costumes and decorations. Here are additional dos and don’ts for celebrating Halloween safely- Opens in new window:
- Keep highly flammable decorations at least three feet away from heat sources.
- Consider LED lights that generate less heat and are far more efficient.
- Use plastic zip cords when hanging lights instead of staples, tacks and nails.
- Avoid unsafe and counterfeit electrical decorations, using only those bearing the labels of trusted independent safety organizations like Underwriters Laboratories (UL), Intertek or CSA.
- Use only fiberglass or wooden telescoping or long-range tools, staying at least 10 feet away from power lines while being mindful that vegetation may block visibility.
- Make sure all home smoke alarms are working.
- Turn off all electrically powered decorations when leaving home or going to bed.
- Avoid overloading extension cords by following the manufacturer’s instructions when connecting them to light strands.
- Never connect two extension cords to extend their length, and never place them in pinched positions.
- Never use electrical products outdoors that are marked “for indoor use.”
- Never use metal ladders since they conduct electricity. Use wooden or fiberglass ladders instead.
- Never decorate power poles.
- Never block escape routes with decorations.
- Remove batteries from decorations when storing them.
For more information on safety, visit sce.com/safety.
About the author: Paul Netter is a communications executive at Southern California Edison.