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Minnesota fire marshal says keep your little monsters fire-safe

ST. PAUL -- The Minnesota State Fire Marshal Division wants Minnesotans to have a safe Halloween.

According to a news release from the state Department of Public Safety, fires caused by open flames increase by 50 percent during the three-day period around Halloween, largely due to increased use of candles. The widespread use of decorative dried flowers, cornstalks, paper bags and stuffed scarecrows exacerbates the problem. This means that trick-or-treaters may encounter dangerous situations along their way, especially if their costumes are not safe.

Minnesota State Fire Marshal Jerry Rosendahl suggests that parents choose costumes carefully for their children -- and for themselves.

"Loose, billowing costumes look great, but they're also more likely to come in contact with an open flame. They ignite easily and they burn fast and hot -- and that's not the kind of scare we want to experience on Halloween."

To keep your Halloween celebrations safe, follow these tips from the Minnesota Department of Public Safety's State Fire Marshal Division:

* Look for labels that say costumes are made of flame-resistant materials; these fabrics are supposed to stop burning when removed from a flame. As an alternative, use nylon or polyester, which ignite more slowly and extinguish readily.

* Avoid loose-fitting, flowing costumes, as well as over-the-head designs that impede vision.

* Supervise children as they go trick-or-treating. Make sure they avoid lit candles and jack-o'-lanterns, hot light bulbs or flaming decorations. Teach them to "stop, drop and roll" in case of a clothing fire.

* When you decorate for Halloween, use battery-operated or electric lights rather than candles. Test light cords for wear and dispose of damaged lights.

* Use electric, battery-operated candles rather than real ones.

"As with any situation, Halloween safety requires planning ahead, Rosendahl says. "Take the right precautions, and Halloween can be merely scary -- not horrifying."