Baton Rouge– Halloween is a time of celebration and superstition. It is thought to have originated with the ancient Celtic festival of Samhain, when people would light bonfires and wear costumes to ward off roaming ghosts.

Evolving from the ancient Celtic holiday of Samhain, modern day Halloween has become less about literal ghosts and goblins and more about fancy decorations, costumes and candy. Today, Americans spend an estimated $6 billion annually on Halloween, making it the country’s second largest commercial holiday.

Jack-o'-lanterns, paper spiders, and dried cornstalks are hallmarks of Halloween. Unfortunately, these spooky symbols can present lurking fire risks that have the potential to become disastrous. During Halloween, nearly half of all fires in homes are the direct result of decorations being too close to a heat source.

According to the U.S. Fire Administration, there are over 10,000 fires in America each year during the days leading up to and immediately following Halloween. Worse, those fires cause approximately 25 deaths and an additional 125 injuries. As for property, including homes, vehicles and other structures, Halloween fires account for 83 million dollars in damages and loss.

The State Fire Marshal’s Office advises the following recommendations:

• Always keep decorations that are combustible away from candles, electric bulbs, and/or heaters.

• Do not block doorways and other exits with decorations.

• If making a costume, utilize materials that do not easily burn, should they come into contact with heat sources.

• When lighting a Jack-O-Lantern or other decorations, use flameless light sources that are cool to the touch when

lit, such as LEDs and glow sticks.

• Plan, prepare, and practice the most effective ways to exit a home or building in the event of a fire.