Happy Halloween! You may think you're past the age when this holiday gives you nightmares, but think again!
Halloween is a day when claims spike. Daring teenagers, adults under the influence, and your every-day criminals are out and about, egging houses and behaving recklessly. More people suffer than we likely realize, because damages that cost less than a policy's deducible (when coverage begins) mean someone is suffering the expense without filing a claim. This Halloween, whether you're answering the door or not, be prepared.
Why should I be scared of Halloween?
The chances of your vehicle being vandalized almost doubles on Halloween.
Homeowner claims for theft and vandalism increase 17% on Halloween, according to Travelers.
Children trick or treating can lead to problems for homeowners. If children sustain any injuries on your property, whether your dog got spooked and bit someone or a child tripped over an extension cord, liability issues could arise.
If you have children, you should know that the risk of pedestrian deaths is very high on Halloween compared to other days. Children ages 4-8 are at greatest risk.
What can I do
To minimize the chances of vandalism and theft?
Park your car somewhere other than the street. A garage or a well-lit area should deter vandals. If you have turned off the alarm system, this is a great time to turn it back on.
Not planning on being around for trick or treat visitors? Don't leave your house completely dark. Use lights triggered by motion-detectors and leave the TV on. If you typically leave any spare keys outside, bring them in. Also, don't post about how your home is going to be free on Facebook. Criminals use social media too...
Whether you're staying in or going out, vandals who want to egg your house or thieves looking to break in are going to choose dark homes. Making sure yours is well-lit will deter them. Check around your house and make sure doors and windows are locked and turn on the outside lights. Yes, you might have a few confused kids show up expecting candy, but that's better than inviting mischief and mayhem in the form of teenagers and their pranks or actual crime in the form of a break-in.
To minimize the chances of a liability claim?
Clear your home of hazards and use electric candles rather than risk a fire. Walking surfaces should be clear of debris. Check the night before in the dark rather than on the day of when it's light out. Light the way for kids (not with actual fire) to lower the chance they trip.
Keep your pets secured somewhere else. Fido may become defensive and think someone's breaking in, or he may become anxious with all of the activity. Don't take the risk. Grab a nice treat he can enjoy and put him somewhere where he'll be safe and so will guests. Some children are also afraid of dogs.
To keep my kids safe?
Have children wear reflective clothing and consider adding reflective tape to dark costumes. It may not be fashionable, but safety comes first. Glow sticks also increase visibility.
Talk to your kids beforehand about proper safety: not entering the street without checking twice or unless they have your permission, being careful around parked cars, and not fooling around near the street. Don't have this talk while you're putting their costume on or they're watching TV. Make sure you have their full attention.
If possible, bring children in before it gets dark. If trick or treat starts early enough, let them know ahead of time that you'll be going home once it gets dark. Have a fun activity planned that they'll look forward to.
Of course, it shouldn't need saying but everyone should be extra careful driving on Halloween. Slow down and do not drive under the influence.