The Scary Side of Halloween for Homeowners
Monday, October 26, 2015
Halloween is all fun and games until someone gets hurt on your front porch. Then it’s just plain scary.
Any injuries that occur on your property become your liability. You want to make sure that you take every precaution to keep trick-or-treaters safe on your property, as well as ensure that you have insurance coverage to protect you from other evils that lurk on “All Hallows Eve”.
Start with the front door
For many homeowners, Halloween is a much-anticipated time of year when you deck out the front porch with spider webs, carved pumpkins, spooky lights and maybe even have sound effects to add to the ambiance. Many like to dress up in costume themselves to scare the wits out of unsuspecting children. This is what Halloween is all about.
But if a little ghost gets scared and takes flight on your step, hurting himself in the process, you are liable. Heed these tips:
- Avoid using candles as part of your decorations - use LED lights and battery-powered lights instead.
- Don’t overload your electrical circuits with lights. You could start a fire.
- If your decorations include paper and dried materials, keep them away from hot lights as they can easily ignite.
- Create a clear path to your door that is well lit and free of debris and clutter that could trip your young guests. Put reflective tape on your steps. Line the walkway with pumpkins that have LED lights in them.
- Repair any loose bricks, holes or cracks that could trip up young Halloweeners.
- Put away anything that could be a hazard such as tools, toys, ladders and garden hoses.
- If you’re in costume to scare trick-or-treaters as they come to your door, stay on level ground, not on a porch with steps. That way kids are less likely to fall if they get scared and make a run for it.
Most home insurance policies will cover you if someone is accidentally hurt on your property, but it’s best to err on the safe side.
Keep your dog from getting spooked
Many dogs tend to get protective as soon as the doorbell rings. During the pandemonium of doorbells, costumed kids yelling “Trick or Treat” and the dispensing of goodies, keep your dog confined so he doesn’t nip a young guest.
In Alberta, a dog’s owner is legally responsible for injuries inflicted on a person by his or her dog.
Watch out for partiers
If your guests drink too much alcohol at your Halloween party, you could be held liable for any injuries that occur when they drive home. Keep an eye on the alcohol consumption, and be sure to offer plenty of non-alcoholic drinks for designated drivers.
The unsavoury side of Halloween is vandalism by mischief-makers such as egging your house or damaging your car.
- Park your car in your garage so it’s not a target
- Lock up things like bicycles and other valuables to prevent theft
Fortunately, most home insurance policies will cover vandalism and theft. If your auto insurance includes comprehensive damage, you should be covered for things like slashed tires, broken windows, and a ruined paint job. Check with your agent to be sure.
If you’re driving, slow down.
Don’t let unpredictable movements get you into an unexpected accident that causes injury. Halloween is an exciting night for children and they may not be as alert as usual when crossing the street.
If you are driving on October 31st, be extra vigilant, especially in residential neighbourhoods. Take a second look before you turn the corner, watch for pedestrians using the crosswalk at the last minute before the light changes, and drive slower than usual.
Halloween night is coming. While it is meant for fun, it could be a scary time if someone is hurt on your property. Be proactive to prevent a situation that could ruin everyone’s night.
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