“Scary” or “frightening” are probably the last words that most homeowners want associated with their homes…except on one special time of the year.
When this spooky holiday rolls around, the whole point is to make your house look as creepy as you can. But that’s all just for show – no matter how scary the place looks, you always want to make sure it’s absolutely safe for any friends or trick-or-treaters who visit.
The fact is that if someone is injured on your property because of a hastily-hung decoration or a problem that you ignored, you could very well be held responsible. Here are a few tips to help you avoid that truly frightening situation…
- Keep Entrance Well-Lit
Kids are already distracted and sometimes physically encumbered by their costumes, so make sure that you do everything you can to ensure their safety by keeping your porch, stairs and front walkway well-lit. If your lights are set to only turn on when they detect motion, you should change the settings to keep them on constantly instead.
- Use Flameless Candles
Real candles with flickering flames just present too much risk on a night when small children are traipsing up and down your steps and standing on your porch in capes and long dresses. Better to be safe than sorry and go for flameless LED candles in your jack-o-lanterns or on your steps instead of the real thing.
- Remove Any Trip Hazards
Anything that’s lying around in your yard, walkway, steps or porch should be moved way out of the way, even if you just have to throw it in a spare room for the day. This includes things like rakes, hoses, potted plants, toys, etc. And it’s even a good idea to remove items from the lawn as kids often cut across the grass as opposed to using the sidewalk.
- Avoid Dry Ice & Fog Machines
Spooky touches like dry ice and fog may win you house-decorating awards on your block, but they also present significant risk when it comes to the safety of children. Not only is dry ice very dangerous to touch, but they both impede visibility. The cool effect simply isn’t worth the risk.
- Keep Pets Locked Up
Even if your dog or cat is the model of a sweet and docile pet, you should keep in mind that all the unusual sights, sounds and strangers could agitate them and cause them to behave in ways they normally do not. And depending on the state in which you live and your pet’s previous behavior, you could be held liable for any injury they cause to visitors or trick-or-treaters. It’s best to eliminate all possible risk and keep them in another room away from the front door during trick-or-treating or Halloween parties.
One simple thing you can do to make sure that no one slips and falls on your steps is to simply add tread strips to each one. It’s an easy, quick and affordable way to ensure that wet leaves or rain don’t cause anyone to fall and get injured on your property.
- Only Hand Out Packaged Treats
When it comes to treats to give to the costumed little ones at your door, it’s always best to stick to packaged items. Most parents won’t even let their kids eat any items that aren’t wrapped by the manufacturer. Furthermore, if someone were to get sick from a treat that you made, the blame might come back to you. Stick with fun-sized Snickers and you’ll be in the clear.
- Keep Pumpkins Out of the Path
While pumpkins are an integral part of your Halloween décor, it’s important to make sure that you don’t place them in a place where they’re likely to be tripped on or kicked over accidentally. If the latter happens, you’ll end up with a sticky, slippery mess that could very well cause someone to slip and fall.
- Make Any Necessary Repairs
You know that one loose board on your front steps that you’ve been putting off fixing for the last 6 months? Well, it’s time to stop delaying and get it fixed before half the neighborhood is climbing up and down those steps. If someone is injured because of a problem that you knew about and didn’t fix, you’re much more likely to be found liable for their injuries.
This is already a scary time of year – no need to make it even more terrifying by getting into legal trouble over an injury that occurs on your property. Using these common-sense tips will help you provide visitors a safe and happy Halloween.
About the Author: John Zaid is a Houston accident lawyer and the founding member of Zaid Law. In addition to serving his clients, John enjoys sharing his advice and expertise with readers on his own blog and a variety of other on line legal publications. To learn more, visit www.zaidlaw.com today.
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