How to keep everyone safe this Halloween

From trick-or-treaters navigating busy streets to a spooky haunted house or carnival to raise money for your school’s PTA, Halloween is a time when safety issues are a top concern.

Carnivals and corn mazes are growing in popularity, but Prince William County Fire and Rescue is reminding all nonprofit organizations, merchants and school personnel that safety during their Halloween activities is their responsibility.

“Our mission is to keep the community and our residents safe,” said Prince William County Department of Fire and Rescue Chief Tim Keen, adding, if the following precautions and regulations are followed, “you’ll have a safe and happy Halloween.”

1. Highly flammable materials such as cotton batting, straw, dried plant material, certain plastics, etc. shall not be used for decorations or construction.

2. Avoid use of combustible materials in displays. If used, combustibles must be treated with an approved commercial flame-retardant treatment. Samples of all such materials must be submitted to this office for flame tests prior to use.

3. Extension cords, multi-plug adapters, and unfused plug strips are not permitted. Only circuit breaker strips or code approved wiring is permitted.

4. Depending on where the activity is located, approval from the Zoning Division of the Planning Office through a Temporary Activities Permit (TAP) review process may be required (703-792-7615).

5. If any walls, partitions, or raised flooring are to be constructed, approval by the Building Official will be required (703-792-6930). The Building Department is part of the TAP review process.

6. Call the Fire Marshal’s Office for an inspection at least 48 hours prior to opening your display to the public (703-792-6360). This can be arranged as part of the TAP process.

7. Maintain all exits in a clear and useable condition.

8. Know the location of the nearest fire extinguishers and how to use them.

9. Know the location of the nearest alarm box.

10. Make sure you have access to a phone to call the fire department and that everyone knows the emergency number: 911.

11. Develop an Emergency Evacuation and Fire Safety Plan; plan document is part of the TAP application packet.

An application process is required for haunted houses and carnivals. For more information, contact the Prince William County Fire Marshal’s Office at 703-792-6360.

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