All Treats, No Tricks: Halloween Safety Tips for Homeowners

jack-o-lanterns on the steps of a house

Halloween is the one time of the year when we willingly encourage groups of strangers to visit our homes, which can lead to some frightening situations. That’s because homeowners can be at risk if someone is inadvertently injured on the property, or they might bear the brunt of damage caused by little feet trampling plants or breaking porch décor. Fortunately, there are steps you can take to enjoy this bewitching evening to its fullest. Read on for our spook-tacular advice.

1. Make sure the front of your house is well-lit.

Turning on the porch light and illuminating your walkway not only makes your home look welcoming, but it creates a safe path for your visitors.

2. Clear potential tripping hazards from the yard.

Ideally your trick-or-treaters will carefully walk up your front path or driveway, but it’s all too common for eager kids to cut across the lawn. Put away any garden tools, toys, hoses, and other equipment, and mark sprinkler heads or other potential hazards. If you have a themed display on your lawn, make sure it’s visible and avoid running cords across driveways and walkways, or be sure to tape them down securely.

3. Double-check your walkway and porch are clear and secure.

Sweep away debris, such as leaves, which can be hard to see in the dark and become slippery when wet. If an early frost is predicted, you’ll have even more maintenance to do — keep your sidewalks, walkways, and driveways shoveled, and take special care against black ice by using a de-icer such as sand or salt.

Check your railing and stairs to make sure they are sturdy; one quick trick is to put outdoor grip tape on your stairs to make them safe for Halloween and beyond. And keep your porch clear of pots, plants, and even pumpkins that could be easy for trick-or-treaters to trip over.

4. Guard against fire hazards.

It might seem traditional to put a candle in a pumpkin, but it also can be a fire hazard. Faux candles with LED bulbs are a better choice.

If you are using decorations like string lights or electronic figures, make sure they are marked as “UL-listed,” which means the product has undergone safety testing in a lab approved by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). Animated decorations are festive, but check that any décor you use in your yard has been deemed safe for outdoor use.

Before plugging in any decorations, verify the cords and plugs are in good condition and don’t overload extension cords.

5. Never let anyone in your home.

This would seem to go without saying, but don’t let any guests in to use your bathroom, get a drink of water, charge their phone, or other potential ruse. While it might seem like the kind thing to do, you never know what could happen with a stranger inside. If they seem to be in distress, offer to make a call on their behalf, rather than handing over your phone.

6. Secure your home.

Unfortunately, theft can easily happen on Halloween night. Make your home less of a target by removing flower pots, pumpkins, and other décor from your yard and stowing your car in the garage. Consider installing motion detectors, which can be useful year-round, but at the least brightly illuminate your house overnight.

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