Don’t give Halloween hazards a ghost of a chance

SCE offers tips for safe and smart decisions about candles, costumes and decorations that are key to preventing accidents

Riddle me this: What’s scarier than spooky Halloween decorations or ghoulish costumes?

For safety experts, the answer is easily the hazards inherent in wearing and displaying spooky décor. Now consuming all of October, Halloween is more than a single night of trick-or-treating or partying. This year’s record $12.2 billion in estimated Halloween spending reaffirms it — with only Christmas featuring more decorative lights.

It is those lights — the electronic kind and the candles that people use to light jack-o’-lanterns — that lead Southern California Edison to join fire and public safety departments nationwide in urging customers to wear, install and maintain their decorations and costumes safely to prevent electrical and fire accidents, injuries and property damage.

Most notably, installing light strands on homes, trees or vegetation can bring decorators close to power lines, which they should always stay at least 10 feet away from (and call 911 if they ever see downed lines). Use a spotter to assist with identifying the hazards of working in an elevated position, especially near electrical lines.

It’s also wise to avoid burning candles, especially in California during wildfire season, when 60% of candle fires start when flammable items like decorations are too close.

“Flameless candles and glow sticks are safest for illuminating any decorations, especially jack-o’-lanterns,” said Nicole Kraus, senior advisor of Enterprise Risk Management & Public Safety at SCE. “While we all love the scariest and most realistic-looking costumes and decorations, they should always be chosen with safety top of mind to eliminate potential hazards from your Halloween celebrations.”

That safety would also include wearing only flame-resistant costumes, keeping highly flammable skeleton and ghost decorations at least three feet away from heat sources, inspecting lights and cords before decorating and discarding any damaged ones.

Here are some additional dos and don’ts for celebrating Halloween safely:


  • Follow the manufacturer’s instructions on how many light strands to connect.
  • 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 UL Solutions.
  • Use only fiberglass or wooden telescoping or long-range tools, staying at least 10 feet away from power lines while remembering that vegetation may block visibility.
  • Avoid overloading extension cords by following the manufacturer’s instructions when connecting them to light strands.
  • Consider LED lights that generate less heat and are more efficient.
  • Make sure all smoke alarms are working.
  • Turn off all electrical decorations when leaving home or going to bed.


  • 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.
  • Never decorate power poles.
  • Never block escape routes with decorations.
  • Never leave batteries in decorations when storing them.

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