Halloween can get truly scary when you have a liability on your hands. Provide a safe home for trick-or-treaters and their families by implementing these homeowner safety precautions.
If someone is hurt on your property, you can be sued under a premises liability type of case. Yes, your homeowner’s insurance policy will offer you some protection, but depending on the injury and cost, it could exceed your policy. If the damages exceed your policy limits, the trick-or-treater can sue to collect damages.
As a homeowner, you are responsible for injuries if:
- You created or caused the dangerous condition.
- You knew about the dangerous condition but failed to cure it or warn of the danger.
- You didn’t know about the hazard, but should have known.
How to Keep Trick-or-Treaters Away
If you really want to deter trick-or-treaters, whether you will be out for the night or don’t celebrate the holiday for religious reasons, you can:
- Turn all of your outdoor lights off. This is a common sign that you are not participating in Halloween trick-or-treating, but if you do this, make sure you follow all other safety precautions, including cleaning up the yard and removing all hazards.
- Post signs at the front gate/entrance that nobody is home or that you ran out of candy.
- Leave a cheap plastic bowl full of candy with a sign that says “please take one.”
Even if you don’t want trick-or-treaters ringing your doorbell, there is still a chance that they may try.
Halloween Homeowner Safety Tips
Regardless of if you accept trick-or-treaters, homeowners should take some safety precautions to prevent a fire, fall, or other homeowner hazard:
- If you want to avoid a trick played on you, it’s best to comply and deliver candy to your trick-or-treaters. Make sure you have plenty of candy and a well-lit front entryway for the kids.
- Walk around your home and make sure all lights are working. Replace any burnt out bulbs and add pathway lights and additional lighting if necessary.
- Clean up your pathways, stairs, and test your railings for safety. Remove all potential tripping hazards
- Avoid flammable decorations, such as corn husks, bales of hay, crepe paper, and dried flowers.
- Refrain from all open flames, including torches and candles. If you have jack-o-lanterns, use battery-powered candles or glow sticks to light them up rather than open flames.
- Keep all of your decorations far from all heat sources, including light bulbs, candles, and heaters.
- Keep decorations away from the doorways and make sure all exits and escape routes remain unblocked.
- Mow the lawn. High grasses can obscure potential hazards and holes that can cause trips, sprained ankles, and other dangers. Low grass is also easier to walk on.
- If you do have a hole, protrusion, or other hazard near your front entrance, make sure you block it off and/or put up signs that warn of the danger. This includes bulging tree roots
- Halloween decorations are a great way to get into the spirit of Halloween, but they can often create unintentional hazards. Try to avoid decorations with sharp edges. If you have decorations that require electricity, make sure you follow all extension cord safety tips and that it doesn’t create a safety hazard. This includes making sure that the extension cord isn’t running in any traffic areas.
- Only use and purchase lights and other decorations that have been tested by an independent testing laboratory, such as Underwriters Laboratory (UL). Learn more electrical safety and decorating tips.
- Some children have food allergies. Consider offering non-candy treats, such as Halloween-themed temporary tattoos, stickers, pencils, and erasers
Although we recommend against using candles (instead, use battery-operated candles and glow sticks), if you must, follow these candle safety tips provided by Electrical Safety Foundation International (ESFI):
Watch our Electrical Safety Videos for more tips on keeping your home and family safe.
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