When I was a kid Halloween was my favorite day of the year.  Christmas was nice and all, but October 31st was the day you got to dress up in something that looked really cool and skulk through the neighborhood with your friends and get free stuff.

I still remember my favorite costume.  There was an old overcoat that hung in my closet for years because I never wore it.  (I think my grandmother gave it to me for Christmas one year with a pair of Argyle socks.)  I found this mask at T.G. & Y. that was comprised of a skull with a sort of Fedora on top.  I paired the mask and the overcoat together and called myself "The Dead Spy".  In retrospect I probably looked like The Dead Flasher.  But we were stupid kids, so who knew?

Halloween is a fun time, especially for kids.  But jack-o'-lanterns along with the paper ghosts and goblins that decorate our homes can quickly become real terrors.

According to the U.S. Fire Administration, from 2011-2015 an estimated 10,300 fires were reported to fire departments in the U.S. over a three-day period around Halloween.  These fires caused an estimated 25 deaths, 125 injuries and $83 million in property loss.  Many of these fires began with decorations.  The dry hay bales and stalks of corn that adorn our front porches can easily catch fire when placed too close to a heat source like a jack-o'-lantern.

The Louisiana State Fire Marshal's Office just issued a news release warning about the increased danger of house fires during the holidays. They offer the following tips:

  • Always keep decorations that are combustible away from candles, electric bulbs, and/or heaters.
  • Do not block doorways and other exits with decorations.
  • When making a costume, use materials that do not easily burn.
  • When lighting a jack-o'-lantern or other decorations, use light sources that do not use a flame.  Acceptable sources include LEDs and glow sticks.
  • Plan, prepare, and practice the most effective ways to exit a home or building in the event of a fire.

Just a little awareness will keep you and your family safe this Halloween.  But don't look for the the Dead Spy to show up at your door.   He's been retired and now lives vicariously through the kids that knock on his door saying, "Trick or treat!"