Research has shown that the violent crime count is nearly 50% higher on Halloween night than any other day of the year. Vandalism, theft, and burglary are also extraordinarily common on Halloween night. By following these six Halloween home safety tips, you can help keep your home and family safe and prank-free.
Light Up Your House (Even If You’re Not Home)
If you can’t be home on Halloween night, there are precautions you can take to ensure that your house looks occupied. Robert Siciliano, a security expert for Porch.com, weighs in on the importance of keeping your home lit on Halloween night.
According to Siciliano, “There are three kinds of lighting; timed, motion, and off. Lighting does no good if it’s off. A combination of both timer and motion-sensitive lighting can give the appearance of somebody’s home, and that the homeowner is aware of and concerned with his or her perimeter security.
The entire perimeter of the property should be well lit with timed lights that go on at dusk and off at dawn. Areas of accessibility, such as near the back and front door and areas where people shouldn’t be lurking, should also have motion-sensitive lighting.
The idea is to have the appearance of a ‘lived-in look’ by keeping the shades and or curtains drawn and lighting going on and off at various times. Also, having at least a television per floor going at all times will make the house much less attractive than a darker docile neighbors home.”
Prepare for Pranksters, Vandals & Thieves
Not everyone wants treats on Halloween – some are looking to trick. The American Property Casualty Insurance Association (PCI) reports that Halloween has the highest number of vandalism claims for any day by 81 percent. The average cost per claim on Halloween was $1,660, which is approximately 9 percent higher than the annual daily average cost per claim.
To help protect your home from ghouls, don’t make your house a tempting treat. “Home security primarily is about layers of protection and making the home and property a tougher target. These layers begin with lighting, signage stating the installation of a home security system, signage alerting to a dog on premise, and maybe getting creative by having the appearance of a dog with a large bowl and or a man in the home with large boots on the front or back stairs,” says Siciliano.
“From there making sure to have newer bump proof locks, deadbolts, door reinforcement technologies, considering shatterproof window film, and of course a home security system which includes interior and exterior motion sensors, glass break sensors, and of course, door and window sensors.”
Aside from safeguarding your home, consider your cars and other belongings that you keep outside. It’s smart to park your car in your garage or a well-lit area to reduce the likelihood of vandalism or break-ins. You should also put away any objects that can easily be taken from your porch or yard, like lawn furniture and grills.
Set Up an Informal Neighborhood Watch
Before Halloween, communicate with your neighbors and come up with a plan for improving security around your neighborhood. Even if you live in a safe community, things can still go wrong. Especially on Halloween when strangers from other neighborhoods or towns are likely to be walking around.
Partnering with your neighborsis a smart way to make sure that all of your homes, children, and belongings are monitored. If you’re looking out for your neighbors and they’re looking out for you, someone is likely to spot suspicious activity.
According to Siciliano, “It doesn’t matter where you live – by thinking like a burglar, recognizing that nobody lives in a completely crime-free neighborhood, you’re wisely shoring up all the ways a burglar might enter your home and taking the necessary steps to protect your property.”
Keep Your Pets Inside
Halloween night can be scary for your pets. If they’re especially uncomfortable with new people and loud noises, this night can be downright terrifying. With kids coming to the door, running in the street and yelling in excitement, your pet is likely to be unsettled and may try to bolt out of the house. That’s why it’s important to keep your dogs in a safe spot like a crate, sectioning off the house with pet gates, or keeping them in an upstairs room away from exterior doors.
Animals are unfortunately also a target on Halloween. Keep them inside, away from any potential danger, and always make sure they’re properly chipped so they can be easily identified if they escape.
Stay Home & Plan for a Safe Night
Overall, the best thing you can do to safeguard your home on Halloween is to be home. The chances of someone breaking into your house is significantly lower if your house is occupied. This means keeping your lights on, opening your door for trick or treaters, and moving around inside and outside of your house.
Plus, an active neighborhood is safer for children trick or treating. Debra Holtzman, J.D., M.A., a child safety expert, recommends using flashlights, glow sticks, and reflective tape to help children see and be seen by people around them. And while you can equip your kids with all the safety devices out there, it’s also important for them to pay attention to their surroundings and learn the correct way to cross a street. Younger kids should have an adult chaperone on their neighborhood jaunts and older kids should be reminded to stay off the road, use the sidewalk, and to walk at the edge of the road facing traffic when there are no sidewalks available.
If you’re sending kids out into the neighborhood, consider nontoxic face paint or makeup instead of masks that may obstruct vision. Always check to make sure your child’s costume is flame resistant. Fabrics such as nylon and polyester are best. Don’t forget to check beards, masks, and wigs, as well. Avoid costumes that might restrict mobility too much and make it difficult for a child to move around.
Homeowners opening their doors to trick-or-treaters can help keep things safe by lighting up walkways and front porches and removing any obstructions. Make sure all props are highly visible or tagged with reflective tape to prevent visitors from tripping over them. If you have jack-o-lanterns on the porch, look for battery-equipped faux candles or glow sticks to light them, so you don’t have to worry about any open flames.
Set Alarms & Security Cameras
Finally, you should arm your home security system and make certain your security cameras are working properly and placed where there is a clear view of the area around your home with no obstructions. Many times, just seeing a security camera and home security yard sign is enough to deter someone from committing a crime.
While it should be top of mind to protect your home throughout the year, it’s worth taking extra precautions to ensure that the only scary thing you’ll face on Halloween night is running out of candy.