Ghosts and Goblins and . . . Liability!?
How to Keep Your Children and Property Safe on Halloween
Some folks look forward to a scary Halloween all year long—the costumes, the candy, and the spooky stories can add up to an evening of fun for the whole family. However, you can’t have the treats without the tricks! Halloween can mean a unique set of safety challenges for parents, homeowners, and law enforcement.
This festive night has caused many problems that eventually had to be resolved by a judge. One Louisiana Court even recognized that “on any other evening, presenting a frightening or threatening visage might be a violation of a general duty not to scare others.” Read on for Halloween safety tips that will help ensure your night doesn’t turn into a nightmare!
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Tips for Homeowners: How to Keep Your Ghoulish Guests Safe
Passing out candy is a great way to get to know your neighbors and see tons of cute kids in costume. But every time you invite people onto your property you are also exposing yourself to liability if someone is injured. With some planning and common sense you can make sure your Halloween night doesn’t end up cursed.
- Make sure Halloween decorations aren’t a trip hazard or hanging accident waiting to happen. Slip and fall injuries are one of the most common injuries for kids and adults that are claimed on homeowners’ insurance policies.
- Spooky lighting can really set the mood for All Hallow’s Eve but you’ll want to make sure people can see well enough to walk safely.
- Restrain your pets. Even the best dog can be startled by a scary Halloween mask and the children approaching your door may have an allergy or fear of dogs.
- If you are hosting kids for pumpkin carving, it’s probably best to ask parents to come along and supervise their children while they massacre pumpkins with tiny knives.
For the Little Ghouls: Trick or Treating Safety Tips
The annual opportunity to dress up and go trick or treating is a very exciting night for most kids. But all that excitement can also lead to injury. Here are some kids safety tips that can help prevent a frightful night.
First, you will want to make sure that any Halloween costume your child wears is both fire resistant and reflective. This small precaution can help you avoid ending up like the man who sued Johnson and Johnson for serious burn injuries after his couple’s costume, Little Bo Peep and her sheep, caught fire. It’s also a good idea to make sure that shoes fit well and costumes don’t drag on the ground to prevent trips in the dark.
If your child is wearing a Halloween mask, make sure that it fits securely and doesn’t restrict vision. For older children and teens, you should be sure to have a conversation about masks and vandalism. Some states increase criminal penalties when a mask is used while committing a crime and there are also special Halloween rules about masks in some cities.
DID YOU KNOW: The Teal Pumpkin Project
This initiative makes sure kids with allergies aren’t left out of the Halloween festivities. Placing a teal pumpkin outside your house signals that you have treats that are safe with children with allergies, such as coloring books or other non-food items.
A few more tips to ensure Halloween safety include:
- Children should always be accompanied by an adult.
- Although difficult to enforce, some states and towns have age limits on who can participate in wearing masks and collecting candy. Check with local law enforcement about the rules of halloween trick or treat to make sure you comply.
- Advise kids to stick to well-lit pathways and review how to call 911 before they set out to trick or treat.
- Have a conversation with your kids about trespassing on abandoned or “haunted” properties. While being “haunted as a matter of law” might get you out of buying a house, it won’t get your child out of a criminal charge for trespassing.
- Check your local sex offender registry to make sure you are informed about who is in your area. Many states, including Louisiana, have laws that prevent registered sex offenders from dressing up on Halloween, passing out candy, or even turning on their porch lights, but it’s always best to be aware.
- Have your children carry a kids safety kit that includes a flashlight, cell phone, and other emergency supplies such as a whistle.
Halloween Tips For Motorists
Last but not least, motorists need to be extra careful during this spooky season. It’s an unfortunate Halloween fact that children are twice as likely to be hit by a car while walking on Halloween night.
- Keep an extra vigilant lookout while driving, especially in residential areas and at intersections.
- Never drink and drive. With so many kids on the road it is never worth the risk.
- Discourage new and younger drivers from being on the road for everyone’s safety.
With a little bit of planning and foresight, you can make sure that All Hallows Eve is a HalloWIN for you!