All Hallows’ Eve is upon us. While for most households this means adding finishing touches to the exterior and topping-off candy coffers, we want to remind you to be prepared for the scariest of possibilities – a threat to your homeowners insurance! Halloween is the one-time of the year that strangers of all-ages are welcomed on to your property, at night. This opens you up to numerous liability concerns. Before the evening of this October 31st creeps up upon you, please ask yourself the following questions.
4 Questions to Consider Before Opening Up Your Property to Trick-or-Treaters This Halloween of 2021
I. Have You Removed All Hazardous Obstacles from Their Path?
A trip and fall, waiting to happen
On-property slip and falls are a common occurrence on Halloween. Sidewalks, stairs, and pathways to your home may be covered with fallen leaves, and as evening arrives they get frosty and slippery. Be sure to perform a sweep of the premises before night falls. However, there are other obstacles to be concerned about. The very same lawn and garden decor that you have installed to scare the bejesus out of trick or treaters can actually put them in harms way. Instead, place inflatables and animatronics at at least 6-feet away from the entry and path to your house. In addition, keep pumpkins off of the staircase. They are an inherent obstacle as is, but can also roll when bumped and cause further problems.
II. Is There Adequate Lighting?
Consider something a little brighter
We know you want to create a festively ominous scene for all who approach, but that opens you up to personal injury claims should there not be adequate lighting. Ensure that the pathway to your door is illuminated so that children, teens, and parents can clearly see where they are walking. Consider buying sensor LED lights with an adhesive backing that you can temporarily fasten to the sides of your staircase for added visibility.
III. Is Your Dog in a Safe Place?
As mentioned above, Halloween is the one time of the year where you expect strangers to come to your home and bark outside of your door. Do you know who doesn’t understand this? Your family pets. If you have a dog, keep them in another room during trick or treating hours. To them, every person approaching could be there to do harm, and they may attack to protect you and their domain. They may even mistake neighborhood kids as a threat given that identities are hidden by costumes. Keep your pets inside and downstairs/upstairs behind a closed door. View more on how to prevent dog bite liability.
IV. Have You Created a Environment That Considers Current Health & Safety Measures?
Hey buddy, what part of “6-feet apart” don’t you get?
On Halloween, protocols for physical distancing seem to fly out the window with the witches broom. Children and preteens rush the door of each home they visit, vying to get the pick of the litter from the candy bowl. While in-theory their parents should bear the responsibility, it’s best to err on the side of caution and set the stage for responsible trick or treating on your property. Leverage some of the bright yellow CAUTION tape that you use to set a scary tone to promote distancing. You can use it as a “velvet rope” (so to speak) to keep more than one party from approaching your door at a time. You can also use orange neon chalk to draw markers on the pathway so that kids and parents understand to keep an appropriate distance from fellow revelers. Show further dedication to creating a sanitary environment by fastening a large bottle of hand sanitizer at the front gate (if the gate must be opened by hand) and another beside the candy bowl. Instead of doling out all of the candy all at once, refill the bowl with smaller portions periodically through the evening so that fewer hands come in contact with the candy.
Not Getting Involved?
If you’re not inviting trick or treaters on to your property this year, it’s a good idea follow steps 1 to 3. Some will still come knocking. Although, with signage you can let trick or treaters know to pass by your house with a friendly word stating that “Sorry, due to COVID we’re not able to participate in Halloween this year” or “Sorry, all out of candy“. This will keep from visiting your property, and will also help mitigate blowback from tricksters who typically target Halloween Scrooges.
We hope you have a happy, safe, and liability-free Halloween. And as always, enjoy peace of mind by having an independent broker review your homeowners insurance policy to ensure that you’re protected from all that can happen at this time of the year.