Halloween is an exciting and mischievous holiday, hopefully filled with more treats than tricks. One way to make that possible is to take proper safety precautions around electrical decorations, which are festive but can be potentially dangerous if not handled correctly.
When stocking up on your electronics such as decorative lights and the extension cords that go with them, make sure they’ve been tested for safety: products that have been tested in a lab by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) in the U.S will be marked “U-Listed”. This is a sign that they have passed certain safety standards. It’s also important to use lights for their intended purpose – only use lights labelled for outdoor use outdoors, and those labelled for indoor use indoors (if nothing else, a green holograph on the package indicates indoor use only, and a red mark indicates both indoor and outdoor use). Indoor lights can be dangerous when used outdoors, since wet weather or sprinklers can cause electric shock or fire.
Check electronics for damage or wear before using them and discard fraying or cracked sets. Be sure to unplug lights before changing broken or burned out bulbs and fuses, and be careful not to overload extension cords. Read the wattage on an extension cord or outlet to know how much charge it’s capable of before plugging things in, and know the power requirements for decorations and lights so you can make sure the extension cord can carry them.
Keep all cords and wires away from foot traffic and walkways, as it’s a tripping hazard. Never use staples or nails to secure cords – they damage the insulation and expose you to electric shock and fire.
Children’s costumes often contain battery-operated components, from lights to sound effects to moving accessories. While the batteries rarely pose a safety threat themselves, they are extremely harmful when swallowed. Small children may be especially attracted to button cell batteries, so an adult should put batteries in, take them out, and be responsible for attaching them to the costume.