Kathy’s Corner: Make your home and yard safe for trick-or-treaters
Daylight is slowing lessening each day and once Halloween arrives the end of the month, we could see darkness as early as 6:30 p.m. If you enjoy having trick-or-treaters visit your home that day/evening, there are a few things you can do to insure you as well as the goblins, princesses and minions stay safe.
Light porches and pathways. Even if it isn’t quite dark outside, make certain even your early arriving visitors feel welcome by having plenty of light. If there is a specific route you’d prefer to be taken, consider placing a pathway of tea lights inside white paper bags indicating the best path to awaiting treats. If you are ambitious, you could cut out jack-o-lanterns and place along the driveway and/or sidewalk leading to your door.
Avoid flammable decorations. Halloween decorations made of plastic, paper, cornstalks or hay are great for creating a festive scene for the porch or yard. However, these materials are highly flammable and have a reputation for causing fire damage when combined with the use of lighted candles or spotlights that put out a lot of heat. Be wise and safe by choosing low wattage/LED lights and other safe lights to illuminate your decorations. If you do choose to use candles, make certain they are out of the reach of small visitors, pets, and blowing costumes or decorations.
Clear the way. Do you have hoses, garden tools or sprinklers out on the lawn? How about toys or bicycles on the sidewalk or driveway? Be considerate of others by straightening up and storing objects that might trip or otherwise injure an unsuspecting visitor. Also, if you have pets, take a minute to “scoop the poo” off the lawn. Finally, if you have a spotlight or other lighting bringing attention to your decorations, use heavy tape to secure them to hard surfaces and/or use a bright colored extension cord to bring attention to it if it’s on your lawn.
Keep pets away from the action. Pets can be frightened by groups of excited children and Halloween costumes. It is best to secure your dog, cat or other pet in another part of the yard or home. It will remove the chance of unpredictable behavior from your pets and keep visitors safe.
Make it obvious you welcome guests. Whether you simply leave the outside lights on or decorate windows, doors and lawns with all your favorite Halloween décor, show that you are celebrating with kids in costumes wishing to visit your home in hopes of receiving a treat or trinket.
Make it obvious you do not want guests (or are done for the night). Even if you do not normally turn your porch lights off until later, if you are done welcoming trick-or-treaters for the night turn outside lights off. If you have windows in the front of the house showing lights are still on inside, consider covering them temporarily with cardboard, sheets, or something else that will block light and ward off the more persistent visitors. Another option is to simply call it a day a bit early and head to bed or consider posting a sign as suggested below.
Not going to be home on Halloween? If you will not be home for Halloween or leave for a while to take your own trick-or-treaters around the neighborhood, make certain your home is secure. Turn off any lighted decorations and consider posting a sign by the driveway saying, “Sorry we’re out of treats” or something similar to discourage them from heading up to the front door. If you have a home security system, make certain it is on.
Make this Halloween fun and safe for everyone. The tips mentioned above should help those who plan to join in the festivities and those who choose otherwise.
Kathleen Riggs is the Utah State University Extension family and consumer sciences professor for Iron County. Questions or comments may be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org or call 435-586-8132.