Texas Living

Staying Safe on Halloween Night

By Jennifer Chappell Smith 10.26.16

In neighborhoods across Texas, spider webs are being stretched across door frames and jack-o’-lanterns are popping up on porches for one of the most exciting nights of the year — Halloween.

October 31 is one of the few times a year when you want a good scare. Avoid unwanted scares with our tips for safely trick-or-treating, passing out candy, and avoiding vandals. If you’re not partaking in the holiday fun, drive slow out there and keep an eye out for little ghosts and goblins.

Trick or Treat

Send your kids on their merry way with these important safety lessons. If they’re old enough to be unaccompanied, you’ll feel better knowing they have these guidelines to take with them: 

  • Poison apples. Educate kids on what not to accept — handmade treats, opened candy, and “rolled” items (like taffy) that are easy to alter and rewrap.
  • Forbidden forest. If your trick-or-treaters venture out without an adult, give them a designated map of safe zones they can visit, with a planned route in familiar neighborhoods.
  • Buddy system. Make sure kids stick with a buddy at all times, and encourage them to travel in groups.
  • Gingerbread houses. Don’t let kids Hansel-and-Gretel it; they should only approach houses that are well-lit, carry a flashlight with fresh batteries, and consider using reflective tape.
  • Curfew. Don’t let your little Cinderella’s carriage turn into a pumpkin. Set a time for kids to be home.
  • Loot inspections. Before kids dig into their candy haul, remove any allergy risks (peanuts, chocolate, candy dyes or flavorings, etc.) and candy with open packaging, punctures, or tears.
  • Dress the part. Prevent trips and falls by making sure their costumes fit properly and masks don’t slip out of place and obstruct vision. Make sure costume props like swords and wands can’t actually do any harm.

Passing Out Candy

What about the other side of trick-or-treating? If you’re donning your witch’s hat and filling a cauldron with candies to pass out, keep this advice in mind to create a safe experience:

  • Set the scene. Avoid candles and clutter when you decorate. Plug-in lanterns are safer, but don’t overload your outdoor power outlet.
  • Clear the path. On dark and spooky nights, items in your driveway or on your porch can cause visitors to trip. Remove toys and tools, roll up garden hoses, and clear the sidewalk of litter.
  • Light the way. Create a mystical environment with outdoor path lights, jack-o’-lanterns lit with fake candles, or a string of lights.
  • Appear. If your front door is tucked away, think about setting up on your front porch or front yard so trick-or-treaters feel safe.
  • Keep your familiars indoors. Your dog is probably friendly and will want to greet every visitor. But not only can a constant stream of visitors stress your pet, it can also stress trick-or-treaters who aren’t comfortable around animals.

More Treats, Less Tricks

Of course, the other side of Halloween is the tricks; this night can inspire pranksters to commit some sinister ones. So how do you make sure all the pirates coming to your porch are the costumed kind?

  • Leave your automobiles in the garage. Personal vehicles are almost twice as likely to be vandalized on Oct. 31 than on any other day, according to data from the Highway Loss Data Institute. 
  • Keep your house lit up. Places where people appear to be home are less of a target than ones that look dark and deserted. And if there’s ever a day it’s likely your home will get egged or toilet papered, it’s Halloween.
  • Stand watch. “Stay home — and be on the front porch,” says Darrell Allen, a Texas Farm Bureau Insurance Agent in Dallas County, laughing. Actually, that’s not a bad idea. While it’s impossible to stand guard all night long, passing out candy from your driveway or porch, where you can see who is approaching your home, can help deter pranksters.
  • Alert authorities. If you do get vandalized, “Call police and document everything,” Allen recommends.
  • Make it a movie. Before cleaning up, Allen suggests homeowners video record the damage along with audio narration.

Fortunately, Allen says homeowners with average coverage won’t have to suffer a Halloween fright over vandalism, as most auto and home insurance policies cover it. Now, that’s a sweet treat.

For more Halloween fun, explore Texas’ best bat-watching sites

Coverage and discounts are subject to qualifications and policy terms and may vary by situation. © 2016 Texas Farm Bureau Insurance