The buzzing and zapping of spooky gizmos like Van de Graaf generators, giant electrodes and lightning rods brought life to Dr. Frankenstein’s castle laboratory — and his monster from the slab. And, through conjured or coincidental lightning strikes, catastrophic electrical malfunctions, or electro-chemical combinations, superheroes like Captain Marvel, Flash, Thor, Magneto, Storm, and Black Lightning were born.
While many Halloween tales and trappings have relied on highly imaginative uses of electricity’s awesome power, Indiana’s electric cooperatives remind Halloween revelers to make sure they understand where movies and myths end and where reality begins.
“Remember what Spiderman said: ‘With great power comes great responsibility,’” notes Jon Elkins, vice president of safety, training and compliance at Indiana Electric Cooperatives. “It’s everyone’s responsibility to be safe around power. Taking safety shortcuts, or ignoring easy but important rules, or trying your luck teasing electrical equipment, can lead to tragic consequences.”
Use the following tips for a safe and happy Halloween:
- Make sure your outdoor decorations only LOOK or SOUND spooky. Inspect each mechanical ghoul, ghost or goblin for cracked, frayed or bare wires. You don’t want them to really cause a shock or start a fire!
- Want to convert your yard or open garage into a haunted house? Don’t let it turn into a true-to-life horror story through electrical fires or hazards. Only use electrical items marked “for outdoor use.” Plug those decorations into circuits protected by ground fault circuit interrupters (GFCIs).
- Halloween night is not the time to take a trip. Keep electric cords away from doorways and walkways, lest you or your trick-or-treaters trip and fall.
- Keep nails and staples away from light strings and extension cords. They can easily damage the cord’s insulation and expose the wires inside.
- When it’s time to hang up the costume and retire for the evening — or if you’re leaving home for a few hours — make sure you turn off your electrical decorations.
A safer jack-o’-lantern
Rather than use a candle or a household lightbulb to light up your jack-o’-lantern this Halloween, consider battery-operated lights. Another option is one of the new LED bulbs available. These options are much cooler, creating less risk of fire or burns. LEDs only use one-quarter as much electricity as incandescent bulbs and may last 25 times longer. Many of the new LEDs have programmable colors and patterns to make your jack-o’-lantern even spookier.
If you still use a fixture in your pumpkin you must plug in, no matter what kind of bulb or LED you use, be sure to unplug it before you leave it unattended or turn in for the night.
Famed Hoosier poet James Whitcomb Riley’s most repeated line this time of year must be “The gobble-uns’ll git ya, ef you don’t watch out!”
Indiana’s electric cooperatives echo that sentiment, but they’re not talking about supernatural goblins. It’s the GOBLINS of electrical safety co-ops want you to watch out for with your Halloween decorations:
G GFCI – Use only electric outlets with ground fault circuit interrupters connected for your outdoor lighting and displays.
O Overload – Never overload a circuit by plugging too many strands of lights or other appliances into the same plug. Instructions with your light strings should tell you how many can be strung together safety.
B Battery-powered LED lights – Use these in jack o’-lanterns instead of candles.
L Lights on – Make sure your porch light is on and the path to your door is well lit if you expect trick-or-treaters. If you are trick-or-treating, carry a flashlight so you can be seen.
I Inspect — Be sure to check all the cords and bulbs of your holiday lighting for damage as you decorate.
N Nails and staples – Do not use metal fasteners to string strands of lights and extension cords or hold wires in place.
S Switch off – Make sure you turn off all your decorative lighting when you leave them unattended or go to bed.