Halloween Safety Tips, Fire Safety, and Ways to Prevent the Spread of COVID-19

October 25, 2021

Ongoing surveillance of local COVID-19 data by the St. Mary’s County Health Department (SMCHD) continues to show high levels of community transmission of COVID-19. SMCHD strongly recommends that all community members (vaccinated and unvaccinated) continue to wear masks in indoor settings when with others outside their household and in outdoor group settings when physical distancing cannot be maintained.

“With the holiday season approaching fast, it is important that everyone in our community takes steps to protect themselves and others from COVID-19,” said Dr. Meena Brewster, St. Mary’s County Health Officer. “If you’re eligible to get COVID vaccine or booster doses, please do so now. While enjoying the holidays, please take some additional measures to decrease your risk of getting or spreading COVID-19 infection.”

Tips for a Safer Halloween

  • Wear a well fitted mask in all indoor settings and in outdoor settings where physical distancing cannot be maintained from people who do not live with you
    • Masks are recommended for everyone over age 2
    • Costume masks with openings around the mouth and nose do not substitute for a mask for COVID-19 prevention – a well-fitted mask for COVID-19 prevention can be worn underneath most costume masks
  • Avoid poorly ventilated indoor public spaces
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water or hand sanitizer
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick, or others if you are sick
  • Please wash your hands before preparing Halloween treats or goodie bags
  • Avoid handling or distributing Halloween treats if you are feeling sick or may be a close contact of someone who has COVID-19
  • Instead of indoor Halloween get-togethers, consider alternative celebrations such as outdoor scavenger hunts, outdoor movie nights, and virtual Halloween costume contests

If someone in your family is feeling sick or may have been exposed to someone with COVID-19, they should not participate in in-person Halloween activities and should not give out candy to trick-or-treaters. They should stay home unless seeking medical care or to get tested for COVID-19. Information on free community COVID-19 testing is located on the SMCHD website at smchd.org/covid-19-testing.

Ridge Volunteer Fire Department Release by PIO Scot Best;

Halloween is near and you’re preparing costumes, decorations, and special treats. But, have you considered the accidents that can occur on Halloween? According to the US Fire Administration there are about 10,000 reported fires over a three-day period around Halloween in the US. Those fires caused an estimated 30 deaths, 125 injuries and $102 million in property loss. Dried flowers, crepe paper, cornstalks and decorative scarecrows may make your home look festive, but these classic decorations can pose a scary fire risk. The National Fire Protection Association says flammable decorations are the first things to ignite in 900 reported home fires each year; two of every five of these incidents start by a candle.

As you can see, the spookiest thing about Halloween is the hazards, especially those related to fire. Below are some safety measures you can take to make sure your Halloween celebration stays fun and memorable.

Decorate safely and keep these tips in mind:

  • Don’t put decorations near open flames and other heat sources, such as candles, light bulbs and heaters. Also, place decorations far enough out of the way of trick-or-treaters, driveways, doorsteps, and walkways. Ensure exits are clear of decorations, so nothing blocks escape routes.
  • Consider glow sticks or battery-operated candles instead of real candles when lighting your jack-o’-lanterns or other luminaries. If you do use real candles, light them with long, fireplace-style matches or a utility lighter. Keep lit decorations off of doorsteps, yards and sidewalks where excited trick-or-treaters may knock them over.
  • Check that any decorative lights have been tested for safety by a recognized testing laboratory. Examine each set of lights for broken sockets, frayed wires or loose connections, and discard any damaged sets. Be careful not to overload sockets when plugging in lights and other electronic decorations.

To make sure children enjoy their evening of trick-or-treating, follow these tips:

  • Avoid costumes with loose, long trailing fabrics or other hanging parts, which can catch fire on open flames. Check the labels on costumes, wigs and props to be sure they are made with flame resistant or retardant materials.
  • Double-check that the eyeholes in masks are large enough that children can see and avoid any trips or falls, or brushes with open flames. If visibility is an issue, use makeup or face paint instead of masks.
  • Provide flashlights or glow sticks to carry for lighting, and use glow-in-the-dark reflective tape on costumes for extra visibility near roads.
  • Talk with children about fire safety before heading out, reminding them to stay away from open flames.
  • Tell children to stay away from open flames. Practice the “stop, drop, and roll” technique. in case their costume catches fire: stopping immediately, dropping to the ground, covering their face with their hands, and rolling over and over to put the flames out.
  • 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.

Unfortunately, fire disasters can happen even to the most vigilant of people who follow these Halloween safety tips. Be safe and have a Happy Halloween!