JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO, Texas --
Whether it’s dressing up in a costume and trick-or-treating in the neighborhood or being together with family and neighbors, planning a safe Halloween can be the difference between having a fun celebration to one that could be downright scary.
For Joint Base San Antonio members and their families, celebrating Halloween safely is a matter of following common-sense tips that can make the day enjoyable without any unsafe incidents.
Gilbert Resendez, 502nd Air Base Wing Safety Office safety specialist at JBSA-Lackland, said there are several things parents can do to make sure their children have a safe and fun Halloween.
With COVID-19 still a health concern, children should wear masks or face coverings to protect themselves and maintain six-foot physical distancing when they are out trick-or-treating, Resendez said. Parents should give children hand sanitizer once they get home from trick-or-treating.
To make sure they are seen at night, Resendez said children should wear illuminated outfits, reflective costumes and reflective belts. It’s also a good idea to give children their own flashlights so they can see what is in front of them and see where they are going to avoid tripping hazards.
It is important for parents to accompany children when they are trick-or-treating and keep an eye on them so they don’t run into the street and get hit by a vehicle or injure themselves, Resendez said.
“The bottom line is parents have to supervise all of the kids,” he said. “Make sure there is safety in numbers, go in groups. That way everybody can take care of each other.”
Resendez said people who give out candy to trick-or-treaters or children should do so by putting the candy in a ziplock bag, placing it in a bowl so there is no contact between them and the children in following COVID-19 precautions.
After children are done trick-or-treating, parents should empty their bags of candy to make sure they are not any harmful objects in the candy, Resendez said. Parents need to make sure the candy is wrapped. Be on the lookout for any candy which is unwrapped or they don’t recognize. Don’t give it to the children and discard it.
During Halloween, several decorations, including carved pumpkins or jack-o’-lanterns will be displayed at homes and residences. However, if not watched or set properly, those decorations can become safety hazards.
Darrin Tannert, JBSA Fire Emergency Services assistant chief for fire prevention, said people should use a battery-operated or mechanical light, such as a flashlight or glow stick, instead of a burning candle to light up jack-o’-lanterns or other Halloween decorations.
According to the National Fire Protection Association, Halloween decorations cause approximately 800 house fires per year, totaling $11 million in property damage.
More than two of every five fires which occur on Halloween, 44 percent, are because decorations are close to a heat source, such as a candle or hot equipment, with more than one-third of these fires started by candles.
Since Halloween will be observed on Sunday, there are some people who may fire up the grill to cook their favorite delicacies.
For people who chose to grill, Tannert said they should follow important safety protocols:
- If using a gas grill, make sure it is clean and hooked up correctly and that there are no propane leaks.
- Put lighter fluid before you ignite the fire. Don’t squirt lighter fluid on an open flame because the flame could travel up the fluid stream, ignite, explode and can cause burns.
- Keep children away from grill areas so they don’t injure or burn themselves.
To have a safe Halloween for children and families, the National Fire Protection Association recommends following these safety tips:
- Use a battery-operated candle or glow stick in jack-o-lanterns
- When choosing costumes, stay away from long trailing fabric and choose one that is fire retardant.
- Teach children to stay away from open flames, including jack-o-lanterns with candles in them.
- Dried flowers, cornstalks and crepe paper catch fire easily. Keep all decorations away from open flames and other heat sources like light bulbs and heaters.
- Provide children with flashlights to carry for lighting or glow sticks as part of their costume.
- Remember to keep exits of homes clear of decorations so nothing blocks escape routes. Make sure all smoke alarms are working.
- If your children are going to Halloween parties at others’ homes, have them look for ways out of the home and plan how they would get out in an emergency.
For more information on Halloween safety and tips, contact the safety offices at JBSA-Fort Sam Houston at 210-808-7233, at JBSA-Lackland at 210-671-5028, or at JBSA-Randolph at 210-652-1842.
Information on fire safety is at nfpa.org/education or by contacting the local fire prevention offices at JBSA-Fort Sam Houston at 210-221-2727, at JBSA-Lackland at 210-671-2921, or at JBSA-Randolph at 210-652-6915.