Plenty of people love a good Halloween scare — as long no one gets hurt. And that includes your house.
Hot lights and large crowds present some real risks to homeowners. Follow these seven tips for trick-or-treat safety:
#1 Make Your Outdoor Lights as Bright as Possible
John Pettibone, curator of Hammond Castle Museum in Gloucester, Mass., suggests checking the label on your outdoor light fixtures and using the highest wattage bulbs they can safely handle. You can always switch them back after the holiday for a softer glow.
#2 Prop Open the Storm Door for Trick-or-Treaters
Pettibone suggests propping open the screen or storm door so it doesn’t get in the way when there’s a big group of kids congregated on your stoop. Yellow caution tape can do the trick while keeping with your Halloween theme. A 1,000-ft. roll of 3-inch-wide tape is about $8.
#3 Use LEDs Instead of Real Candles
Pettibone warns against lighting real candles in carved pumpkins or paper lanterns; they’re a fire waiting to happen. LED-bulb faux candles are much safer, and the light looks a lot like the real thing. Before you purchase Halloween decorative lights, be sure to look for safety certifications such as UL (Underwriters Laboratories).
#4 Use Motion Lights After the Trick-or-Treaters Have Left
When the trick-or-treaters go home, the vandals often come out. Motion sensor lights that illuminate the whole house can help scare away mischief makers out to egg your house or do more serious damage.
#5 Tighten Railings
Fixing wobbly or broken porch railings is a trick-or-treat safety must, as they can cause severe injuries if anyone leans on them a little too hard. Hire a contractor or handyman to fix the problem before your guests arrive.
#6 Use Friction Tape on Steps
Steps can get slippery in damp weather. Prepare by applying friction tape ($16 for a 60-foot roll of 1-inch-wide tape) to steps.
If your neighborhood is at risk for an early freeze, stock up on ice melt, too ($20 for a 50-lb. bag).
A related Halloween trick-or-treat safety tip: Clear your walk, steps, and stoop of any obstructions like potted plants – and even jack-o’-lanterns. Move them where no one can accidentally stumble on them.
#7 Clear the Curb — It's the Most Important Trick-or-Treat Safety Tip
Here’s a scary statistic: Four times as many child pedestrians are killed on Halloween night than a normal night. Of all the trick-or-treat safety guidelines, this one could be the most important.
Reduce risks to little pedestrians by clearing parked cars from the curb for better visibility and placing a reflective “Watch for Children” sign at the edge of the road. On busy streets, consider having adults take turns maintaining safety in the street with a hand-held traffic control light.