London Fire Brigade

Halloween and Diwali double celebration sparks candle warning

27 October 2016

We are warning Londoners to take extra care with candles this weekend as both Halloween and Diwali celebrations are set to get underway across the capital.

With the first day of Diwali, the Hindu festival of light, falling on Sunday, 30 October, just a day before Halloween, we are concerned we could see a spike in fires and fire injuries caused by candles.

In the last five years, during the period between 22 October and 13 November, our firefighters have attended 119 fires caused by candles, incense and oil burners. During the same period 41 people have been injured in candle related fires.

As part of Diwali celebrations people often light small earthenware oil lamps called diyas and set off fireworks, while candles are often used to create a dark, spooky atmosphere at Halloween.

Avoid unnecessary frights with Halloween costumes

We are also urging party-goers in Halloween fancy dress to keep their costumes well away from candles and naked flames.

Fancy dress costumes often have tassels, capes and other adornments and can trail and easily catch alight if they accidentally brush against a naked flame, which is why it is crucial candles are kept well away from flammable items to minimise the risk of serious fire and injury.

TV Presenter Claudia Winkleman championed the cause for safer Halloween costumes last year after her then eight-year-old daughter was hurt when the costume she was wearing caught fire.

Following Claudia's high-profile campaign, several retailers agreed to increase fire safety standards on all their children's dressing-up ranges.

Deputy Assistant Commissioner for Fire Safety, Andy Hearn, said: "Candles, incense and oil burners are one of the biggest causes of fires in the home and if they are left unattended you could well see your Halloween and Diwali celebrations go up in smoke.

"They can be particularly dangerous if you are wearing clothing or fancy dress that could accidentally brush against a naked flame – something that can leave people badly injured.

"We are wishing people a safe and happy Diwali and we want everyone to enjoy Halloween but with both celebrations falling together this year we are urging people to take extra care around candles, especially if you or your loved ones are wearing fancy dress."

Our top candle and costume safety tips

  • Keep candles well away from items that could catch fire like fancy dress costumes
  • Only buy children's Halloween costumes from reputable outlets
  • Look for the CE safety mark on outfits
  • Place candles on a heat resistant surface, like a ceramic plate
  • Never leave a candle unattended
  • Always fully extinguish a candle before going to sleep or going out

If the worst happens and your clothes or costume catch fire remember: stop, drop and roll.

Don't run around, you'll make the flames worse. Lie down and roll around. This makes it harder for the flames to spread.

If you are with someone whose clothes have caught fire, get them to stop, drop and roll, then smother the flame with heavy material like a coat or blanket.

Our candle and bonfire and fireworks pages have further safety information.