If you’re like most people, you don’t really want Halloween to be scary. You’re fine to surround yourself with scary things like manic clowns, oversized animals, and politicians… as long as none of it’s real.
With that in mind, why would you do anything that might cause genuinely scary things to happen this Halloween? You know, like a house fire, a car accident, or bodily injury to you or someone else? That’s right: You wouldn’t. And that’s why your good friend Covered is here to remind you about six simple things you can do to ensure a safer Halloween.
1. Skip the Candles and Go Battery-Powered
Yes, the flicker of a candle from within a cleverly carved jack o’ lantern or softly glowing luminaria can be awfully captivating. But it’s just not worth the risk.
The statistics tell a grim tale. For the three-day periods around Halloween from 2014 to 2016, US fire departments reported a total of more than 10,000 fires causing an estimated $102M in property loss, 125 injuries, and 30 deaths. Sure, your homeowners policy likely covers an accidental fire caused by an overzealous jack o’ lantern. But is it really the smartest way to light up your front porch?
Battery-powered votive candles offer a cheap, easy alternative to light up those pumpkins. Some “flameless candles” even feature a reasonably convincing flicker. If you remember to turn them off after use, you could potentially reuse the same votives for a few Halloweens.
2. Make Your Home Safe for Trick or Treaters
Trick or treating is a fun tradition for both the trick or treaters and the folks handing out treats. But it’s no longer fun if a trick or treater hurts herself on your broken front step. You could be held personally liable for the injury, resulting in a claim against your homeowners policy.
Prepare for all those charmingly costumed visitors with a thorough survey of the approach to your home:
- Remove potential trip hazards. Make sure steps, porches, driveways, sidewalks, and walkways are hazard-free. Rake up fallen leaves, shovel snow, and use salt or deicer to eliminate slippery spots. Remove electrical cords, hoses, toys, bicycles, garden tools, or anything else someone could trip over. And please, fix any broken steps or railings.
- Light their way. Make sure your porch light is fully operational and turned on for the night. If you feel like getting fancy, consider battery-powered luminaria to line the sidewalk.
3. Practice Safe Costuming
Sure, that giant cat head looks adorable on you or your six-year-old. Is it still adorable when you can’t see the kid on the bike coming up fast on the sidewalk beside you, leading to a cat-head-on collision?
We love creative costumes. We love safety even more. So stick with these guidelines when making or buying a Halloween costume:
- Make sure everyone can see. Seriously, can the person wearing the costume see while wearing it? How about peripherally? Masks, hats, or wigs that obstruct vision aren’t a good idea for trick-or-treating, dance parties, or (do we need to say it?) driving.
- Make sure everyone can see YOU. There are so many methods available for safely lighting up humans. Put a few strips of reflective tape on your shoes and back. Bring a flashlight or headlamp to use while moving from place to place. Wear LED necklaces, bracelets, or rings. Make a tiara out of glow sticks. Make EL wire a central part of your Halloween costume.
- Be wary of flammable fabrics. Going to a Halloween bonfire wearing a Buzz Lightyear costume constructed of 100% polyester? Not the best idea. Stick with flame-resistant fabrics, even if you’re not planning on attending a fire-centric event.
4. Practice Safe Walking
This one’s not complicated. Halloween is a night when far more people than usual are out walking after dark. This increases the likelihood that pedestrians may be hit by cars.
Sadly, the statistics clearly support this. According to Safe Kids Worldwide, “Twice as many kids are killed while walking on Halloween than any other day of the year.” And as The Verge reported last year, a study of 42 years of data (1975-2016) showed a 43% increase in the number of deaths occurring between 5pm and midnight on Halloween compared to random fall nights.
So be safe out there, and ensure your loved ones are doing likewise. Cross only at crosswalks, stoplights, or stop signs. Walk on sidewalks whenever available. Be extra vigilant about looking both ways before crossing. And never take it for granted that people in cars see you, especially while you’re dressed as a witch, ninja, Catwoman, or Black Panther.
5. Practice Safe Driving
Remember those terrifying stats we shared a second ago? They’re relevant here, too. So if you’ll be out driving on Halloween:
- Drive slowly, and watch carefully. Don’t assume pedestrians see you. Watch for kids crossing mid-block. Be especially mindful when coming out of alleyways or backing out of driveways.
- If possible, minimize driving. If you need to drive to get to that great trick-or-treating neighborhood, fine. But park the car and walk with your kids from there. Don’t drive from house to house. And if you’re going to a Halloween party, take public transportation, carpool, or get around using Lyft, Uber, or a taxi.
- Keep your headlights on. Even during daylight hours. You want to be as visible as possible to pedestrians.
- Minimize distractions. Put your smartphone in the backseat so you’re not tempted to look at it.
- Keep the volume low on your car stereo. If someone is honking or yelling, you need to hear it. (And if you need to blast “Thriller” one last time, do it while safely parked.)
6. Don’t Forget About Your Pets
Your pup may look precious in that pirate costume. But let’s be honest — Halloween is no fun for most pets. It’s stressful to have strangers repeatedly ringing the doorbell. It’s hard to be a pirate puppy at a party, getting endlessly picked up and adored by strangers wearing weird costumes. And pets simply can’t exercise self-control when confronted by overflowing bowls of candy. Your pet could end up stressed out, sick, or biting people. It could even have trouble breathing when that cute little pirate hat gets pulled the wrong direction.
So this Halloween, leave your pets at home. Keep them confined in a room away from the door, making sure the room has all the comforts they need (e.g., bed, toys, food, water). Keep them away from candy and glow sticks, both of which have the capacity to make them very, very sick if ingested. And if you absolutely must dress your pet up as an Ewok (clearly difficult to resist), never leave them unsupervised while they’re wearing their costumes.
Have questions about what is and isn’t covered by your homeowners insurance policy? Give us a call at (303) 302-9927 or drop us a line! We’ll be happy to help.