by David Jayne The House Designers’ Contributing Writer
You’ve gotten a costume, planned your pranks, and purchased a hundred pounds of candy for any trick-or-treaters that come knocking. While the kids in your neighborhood will enjoy walking up and knocking on your door, you should take a few cautionary steps to make sure that all of your little spooky visitors walk away safe and happy this Halloween.
Keep Your Pathways Clear
Make sure your front yard or walkway is swept free of debris. Remove objects like flowerpots and hoses that could cause people to trip in the dark. You might consider using Christmas lights to illuminate your walkway for safety. Any walkway lighting will help; anything from pathway lights to flood lights over your doorway will make the path more visible and keep this holiday safe and fun. As an added bonus, a well-lit home will also deter vandals and burglers, not just on Halloween but all year round.
Your dog might be generally friendly towards you as well as strangers but when a steady stream of unusual looking costumed children starts arriving at your door, he might get a little unpredictable. Use baby gates or an interior dutch door to keep your pets away from the front porch. Also keep in mind that some of the children that come to your door may be afraid of or allergic to dogs or cats.
Avoid Open Flames
Candles and luminaries set the smoky mood on Halloween but they can easily become the cause of fire damage to your home. The danger comes when a candle tips over inside a luminary or Jack-o-Lantern and catches fire. You can reduce risk by placing the candle inside a small dish or tuna can, but it might be best to simply eliminate the hazard altogether by using LED flameless candles or chemical light sticks.
Test Your Smoke Alarms and Security Systems
Testing both your smoke alarm and security system will help you to stay safe this holiday. Routine testing of smoke alarms is always a good policy but check them again just prior to Halloween (or other) festivities just to be sure.
If you are going to be away from home, for example attending a friend’s Halloween party, be sure your security system is in working order so that you can enjoy your evening free from worry. This is one of the prime times of year for burglaries and general mischief. You can deter this with a working security system and motion-sensing lights.
Check Your Homeowner’s Insurance
Before the party begins, make sure you check with your homeowner’s insurance. In the unlikely event you'd need to make a claim it is vitally important to know that your coverage is up to date and complete. Consider taking a few minutes to talk with your insurance agent.
Halloween is supposed to be a fun holiday. Taking a few steps to help keep the kids in your neighborhood safe will keep everyone happy, healthy and free from worry. Investing in simple things like outdoor lighting and checking out alarm systems and smoke detectors will provide security benefits throughout the life of your home but at Halloween it's especially important, for you as well as for your guests.