Halloween can often feel extra scary and not just because of the creepy costumes. There’s a lot of creepiness happening on Halloween — it’s dark, strangers are all around, nothing is quite what it seems to be and mischief seems to be at the top of mind for some people. In fact, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) says there was approximately 4,500 Halloween-related injuries in 2017. Worse, one study found that violent crimes tend to spike on Halloween.
But a little effort put into prevention can go a long way in keeping accidents from occurring and deterring crime. Here are some important Halloween safety tips to keep your home and family safe while still enjoying all of that good old Halloween fun.
Light Up Your Home and Yard
Keeping your yard and home well-lit can help trick-or-treaters see well and prevent trips and falls. The last thing you want is for someone to get hurt on your property.
Officer James Banta, SecurityNerd expert and a former investigator with the Biloxi Police Department, recommends having motion sensor lights in your yard and outside your garage. That way, when you’re done handing out candy for the night, you can turn off your front light to to keep trick-or-treaters away, but the motion sensor will still turn things on to deter burglars.
“When a motion sensor light comes on, a lot of time those people will stop what they’re doing, so it does help,” Banta says.
Keep Walkways Clear
Talk a stroll through your property before trick-or-treating starts to make sure there aren’t any obstacles or tripping hazards. Walking surfaces should be even and clear of any debris, decorations and electrical cords.
Remember that visitors won’t be familiar with your yard’s quirks, and some kids may have costumes with flowing or dragging fabric. So lining a narrow pathway with decor could actually make it less safe.
Keep All Valuables Inside, Including Spare Keys
On Halloween, people will be walking in your yard and possibly close to your garage, if you have one. Play it safe and put any valuables inside your home and out of your car, says Banta. You’ll probably want to lock your car and/or garage as well.
Got a house key under a doormat or hidden beneath a rock? It’s probably a good idea to put it in the house as well, just in case someone gets nosy.
Check Decorations for Fire Hazards
According to the National Fire Protection Agency (NFPA), decorations are reportedly the first thing to ignite in about 800 home fires per year. The NFPA notes that corn stalks, crepe paper and dried flowers can be very flammable. Grass can be very dry in the fall, which makes it more likely to be flammable as well, says Banta. Keep any of those flammable items away from heat sources and candles to prevent fire.
“When hanging up lights, check the wiring,” advises Banta. “There should be no frays in the wiring. You don’t want the lights shorting out and catching on fire.”
Never leave lit candles unattended — even in a jack o’lantern. Make sure they’re completely extinguished before you leave the area. If you want to be extra safe, opt for battery-powered candles or glow sticks to light up your pumpkins and other decor. And while you’re thinking about it, check your home’s smoke detectors to make sure they’re working properly. It’s a good thing to do periodically anyhow.
Don’t Invite Strangers Into Your Home
Banta warns against allowing strangers into your home, even though you might be tempted to host a “haunted house” or to allow trick-or-treaters to use the bathroom.
“The best thing to do is to sit outside to hand out candy. That way the door is closed, and you can see anybody approaching,” he says. “When you open the door, you provide an access, so to speak, to your home.”
And of course, if you have a home security system, you’ll want to activate it when you go in for the night. That way, you can rest easier knowing your home is protected.
Keep Your Kids Safe While Trick or Treating
Your home isn’t the only thing you’ll want to protect on Halloween. If you have kids who are going door to door, make sure their costumes don’t drag on the ground and that they can see well while wearing masks and wigs.
One of the biggest risks with trick-or-treating is getting hit by a car while walking. Pedestrians should wear reflective tape or stickers, and/or carry flashlights or glow sticks, so they’re more visible in the dark to drivers. If your child has a cell phone or device, make sure they’re not using it while they walk and instead staying alert. Also, if they’re available in your neighborhood, make sure to talk with young children about the importance of crosswalks.
Also, check your child’s Halloween candy before they eat it. Some items could be choking hazards or cause allergic reactions. Banta says that even though “razor blade in the apple” situations are rare, they still sometimes happen — he’s seen candy laced with narcotics. So be sure all candy is completely sealed before your child opens it to eat it. Candy apples and other homemade items should only be eaten if they come from people you know and trust. Any fruit that looks flawed or candy that looks as if it’s been opened should be thrown away,
Following these tips may help keep you and your family a little bit safer this Halloween. Here’s hoping your holiday is full of treats!