Hello, October! It’s the time of year to enjoy the beautiful fall colours, pumpkin pie, fresh-picked apples and…Halloween! 

Halloween brings about spooktacular celebrations and plenty of fun for all ages. One of the telltale signs that Halloween is approaching is when the decorations come out and suddenly our yards are adorned with pumpkins on porches, spooky lights and creatures hanging from trees.

Whether you’re a simple jack-o-lantern on the front porch kind of person or you go all out to create your own haunted house, here are some hazards to be aware of while decorating your house:

1. Be Safe With Your Electrical Cords

If lights, inflatables or other electrically powered decorations are part of your set-up, it’s critical to choose the right cords and set them up properly to avoid electrical hazards.

All decorations, extension cords and power strips used must be approved for outdoor usage – indoor ones need to stay inside where they belong! Don’t forget to inspect them for frayed cords, damaged prongs or any other signs of damage. If you spot any of those signs of damage – time to find a new cord!

When running extensions cords around your yard, keep them away from high-traffic areas to prevent tripping hazards. If it can’t be avoided, consider investing in a pedestrian cable protector to protect both the cord and those walking over it. 

Even if you’re planning on dressing up as Clark Griswold for Halloween, we don’t recommend you copy his lighting methods! Check that power strips and extension cords can handle the load of the lights or decorations you’re plugging in and never plug too many things into one outlet.

Finally, anything that gets plugged in should be turned off at night or when you’re not at home. That includes lights, fog machines, inflatables and anything else requiring electrical power. 

2. Follow the Rules of Ladder Safety

This step is more for the hardcore Halloween decorating enthusiasts than those who keep it simple. Presuming you don’t have a flying broomstick handy, don’t forget about these key rules of ladder safety for decorating at heights:

  • Choose a ladder that’s the right height and position it correctly so you never have to reach too far or lean far over the side of the ladder.
  • Before you climb, make sure the feet are planted firm and secure on the ground.
  • Face the ladder while climbing and keep three points of contact at all times.
  • Don’t go up on a ladder in high winds or other inclement weather.

3. Properly Secure Your Decorations – Especially Hanging Ones

October often brings blustery days and we’re pretty sure you don’t want the wind to take your decorations with it. Not only would this ruin your hard work, it also has the potential to damage nearby people and property.

Zip ties, duct tape, binder twine, fishing line and wooden stakes are all your friends when decorating. Depending on the type of decoration and where it lives, use these to ensure your decorations stay put so there are no spooky disappearing acts (at least not with the decorations!). For non-hanging decorations, make sure they are securely in place with stakes or adding extra weight as required.

4. Create a Clear Path to Your Door (Or Wherever You’re Handing Out Candy!)

Whether you hand out candy from your front door, a haunted house in the backyard or a lawn chair on the driveway, you need to make sure there is a clear path with no tripping hazards for trick-or-treaters to use. This also applies outside of Halloween night; as long as your decorations are up visitors to your property need a safe walking path.

While darkness, coloured lights or fog machines can add to the Halloween spirit, you must do it in a way that trick-or-treaters can still see well enough to prevent falls or collisions.

5. Protect Candle Flames – Or Use Battery-Powered Candles Instead

Nothing beats the flicker of a jack-o-lantern with a real candle inside…but unfortunately that authentic look also comes with some risks if a costume brushes up against the flame or the pumpkin is knocked over. The safest option is to use a battery-powered candle (some can really pass for real candles these days!).

If you just can’t resist the look of a real candle, make sure the jack-o-lantern is placed out of the way of people walking by. Better yet, place it on a table, chair, ledge or windowsill so it’s not on the ground.

Ghouls and goblins should be the only things causing screams this Halloween. Use these home decorating tips to avoid hazards and ensure a safe and fun Halloween for all.

Wishing you a safe, fun and “boo”tiful Halloween from Cayuga Mutual Insurance!