Halloween – it’s all fun and games (or tricks-or-treats, if you will) until someone gets hurt. Whether your holiday festivities consist of passing out treats to neighborhood kids, throwing an epic Halloween costume party or – go big or go home! – pulling out all the stops and spending hundreds of dollars on props to create a skeleton-filled, zombie haven of a haunted house, you might want to “bone up” on the liability coverage available through your Florida home insurance policy. After you've checked that and brushed up on some Halloween safety suggestions, take these steps to reduce some of the hair-raising (and costly!) hazards that lurk when ghouls and goblins invade your property!
- Down (due) to the wire: Raisins and popcorn balls? Butterscotch and peppermints? Not a chance! You only buy the good candy for trick-or-treaters…and word gets around fast. Soon your house is overrun with stampeding kids – and if you’ve got a mini-obstacle course (decorations, wires, lawn ornaments, gardening equipment, etc.) in your walkway that results in a fall, you’ll wish you passed out pennies, instead! Remove any objects that could cause children to take a spill in your yard.
- Panicked puppies: Fido may be friendly, but he’s also faithful and protective. The constant stream of visitors, combined with the masks and noise, has put him on edge and he takes a nip at a trickster who tugs at his tail. Consider putting him away for the evening, instead of allowing him to help pass out treats to the kiddos. A good “Scooby Doo, Where Are You” marathon might keep him occupied – but he might not be happy if you forget the Scooby snacks! Ruh-roh!
- Never too cool for the pool: Sure, there’s a nip in the air. But your backyard is filled with the stuff of kids’ dreams – a pool, trampoline and swing set. Treats that far outweigh the lure of free candy, and can be even more tempting than the thrill of a haunted house. Even if your haunted house is contained to your front yard, if a child enters your backyard and is injured by one of these “attractive nuisances,” it could spell trouble for you. Make sure to lock your fence securely to ensure that your backyard is inaccessible to easily enticed little gremlins.
- The witches’ brew: If your (adult) party beverages are stronger than apple cider, you automatically assume “social host responsibility.” If your guests injure someone, or destroy property in their intoxicated state, you could share blame and be haunted by some serious legal issues. Make sure to serve food and other types of beverages, and stop serving alcohol at least one hour before the end of the party. Consider collecting your guests’ keys at the beginning of the evening and returning them to each individual ONLY if they’re ok to drive.
- Tripping the light not-so-fantastic: You’re a stickler for Halloween tradition, which means the jack-o-lantern on your porch can only be illuminated by an open-flame candle. All it takes is one hyper trick-or-treater, feeling the effects of a sugar rush and squarely focused on his candy quest, to knock over your pumpkin and unintentionally set your home ablaze. A couple options for avoiding this fate: place the jack-o-lantern in a window (away from drapes or other fire hazards) inside your home, out of reach of eager trick-or-treaters, or (even better) use a battery-powered light or flameless candle instead of an open-flame candle.
Hopefully, these simple precautions will give you (and your home) more than a ghost of a chance of surviving the holiday safe, sound and incident-free. Your Florida homeowners insurance policy provides most of the protection you need for things that could go bump in your house on Halloween, but you might consider a zombie insurance policy for your haunted house!
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