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State Fire Marshal’s Office Reminds Consumers to Improve Fire Safety During Halloween and Daylight Saving Time

Use Care When Using Candles During Halloween and Check Smoke Alarm Batteries Ahead of Daylight Saving Time
Wednesday, October 28, 2020 | 08:23am

NASHVILLE —The Halloween (Oct. 31) holiday and the end of daylight saving time (Nov. 1) are two occasions that mark every autumn. This year, the Tennessee State Fire Marshal’s Office and the Tennessee Department of Commerce & Insurance (TDCI) remind consumers to use the two events — which occur back-to-back this weekend — as opportunities to take steps that can increase fire safety this year and into 2021.

“During this unprecedented year, Tennesseans have faced and overcome challenges like never before,” said Assistant Commissioner of Fire Prevention Gary Farley. “I encourage my fellow Tennesseans to use this weekend as a chance to focus on fire safety in order to have a safe Halloween and ensure that their homes’ smoke alarms are working properly as winter approaches.”

Halloween Fire Safety

Open flames and candles are synonymous with Halloween decorations such as jack-o’-lanterns. Unfortunately, candles contribute to home fires every year. Tennessee fire departments report an average of 68 candle fires in Tennessee homes per year from 2015-2019. Those home candle fires have resulted in two civilian deaths each year and an average monetary loss of $3.2 million.

To ensure your family has a happy and safe Halloween, the Tennessee State Fire Marshal’s Office shares these fire safety tips:

  • Stay away from costumes that have long trailing fabric. If you or your child are wearing a decorative mask, make sure the mask’s eye holes are large enough to provide a clear field of view.
  • When trick-or-treating, provide children with a flashlight or glow stick for lighting. Adult supervision is also strongly recommended.
  • Dried flowers, cornstalks and crepe paper are highly flammable. Ensure all decorations are kept away from open flames and other sources of heat like light bulbs or heaters.
  • Use battery-operated candles or glow sticks in jack-o’-lanterns. If you use a real candle, use extreme caution and do not leave the candle unattended. Make sure children are supervised at all times when candles are lit. When lighting candles inside jack-o’-lanterns, use long, fireplace-style matches or a utility lighter. Be sure to place lit pumpkins well away from anything that can burn and far enough out of the way of trick-or-treaters, doorsteps, walkways and yards.
  • Instruct children to stay away from open flames. Be sure they know how to stop, drop, cover and roll if their clothing catches fire. Have them practice stopping immediately, dropping to the ground, covering their face with hands and rolling over and over to put the flames out.

Daylight Saving Time: Nov. 1

When setting clocks back one hour to mark the end of daylight saving time on Sunday, Nov. 1 at 2 a.m. (CDT), Tennesseans should also check the batteries of their smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors to ensure these important devices are properly functioning.

Most fatal fires occur at night while victims are sleeping. The smoke and toxic gases generated by a home fire can cause people to sleep more deeply which reduces the likelihood of surviving a fire. A working smoke alarm can double the chances of survival by increasing the amount of time a person has to escape a house fire.

To help ensure the safety of Tennesseans, consumers should replace the batteries twice a year in both smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors unless they have smoke alarms with 10 year sealed batteries, which require the entire smoke alarm be replaced when the alarm chirps. Having new batteries every six months reduces the chance of alarms chirping to indicate low batteries. All too often, a battery is removed and not replaced, putting a home’s occupants at risk. There’s no way to predict when a fire will occur so even one night without an operational smoke alarm can be dangerous.

To help raise awareness about home fire safety, the Tennessee State Fire Marshal’s Office recently launched a fire safety public awareness campaign featuring country music artist Tracy Lawrence sharing a variety of fire-safety messages, including the importance of having working smoke alarms.

Tennesseans who are in need of working smoke alarms should contact their local fire departments and ask if they participate in the State Fire Marshal’s Office “Get Alarmed, Tennessee!” program. Through this federally funded program, over 191,000 working smoke alarms have been installed by local partners in homes across Tennessee resulting in over 300 life-saving alerts from alarms installed through the program.

When it comes to smoke alarms, remember:

  • Install working smoke alarms inside and outside of every sleeping area and have at least one alarm on every level of the home. Make sure everyone can hear the alarm and knows what it sounds like.
  • Smoke alarms with 10-year sealed batteries are available and designed to last for the life of the alarm. If the alarm chirps on these units, replace the entire smoke alarm right away.
  • Remember to test alarms once a month using the test button. Replace the entire alarm if it's more than 10 years old or doesn't work properly when tested.
  • Devise a fire escape plan with two ways out of every room and a designated common meeting place far enough away from the home. Share and practice the plan with all who live in the home, including children.
  • When a smoke alarm sounds, get out of the home immediately and go to your pre-planned meeting place to call 9-1-1.