It’s that time of year again! Time to stock up on candy and get ready for all the little ghosts and goblins to come knocking at your door. But that also means it’s time to be vigilant and protect your home from the REAL monsters out there.
Halloween is the one rare day of the year when we literally open our doors to dozens of strangers. And while there may not be much harm in handing out candy to little ones, it’s important to make sure you’re not creating unnecessary security risks. After all, lots of people will be roaming through your neighborhood on Halloween night. You never know if burglars or vandals may be among them, staking out your home.
Here are a few simple tips to keep you and your home safe.
- Decide on a time to close & lock your doors. Most communities end their trick-or-treating by 8 or 9 p.m. After that, it’s time to close and lock your doors. If you’ve already turned out the front light, then there’s no reason to answer the door. To be extra safe, you may want to close and lock your door after every trick-or-treater. It only takes a second, but it’s the only way to prevent bad guys from walking straight through your front door.
- Keep other lights on. Just because you’ve turned off the front light at the end of the night doesn’t mean your entire house should go dark. In fact, it’s better to give the appearance that someone is home. Keep some lights on inside your house. Also, use any lights in back of your home to make your yard well lit.
- Close the garage. An open garage door on Halloween night is an invitation for theft and vandalism. Keep it closed – with your car parked inside it.
- Going out? Don’t make it obvious. Whether you’re headed to a Halloween party or taking your child trick-or-treating, be sure that your house remains well lit. It’s okay to keep the front light off if you don’t want kids knocking on your door. Just be sure to leave some lights on inside the house.
- Consider motion-sensor lights. If you don’t already have motion-sensor lighting around your home, this is a good time to consider it. These lights can prevent burglars as well as pranksters, and it’s more energy-efficient than keeping lights turned on all night.
- Avoid open flames. Halloween home security isn’t just about preventing burglary and vandalism. It’s about safety. Don’t make the mistake of using candles and other open-flame luminaries. They create a serious fire risk! Consider battery-powered votive candles and light sticks for your decorations instead.
- Don’t be afraid to report suspicious behavior. On Halloween night, it’s easy to dismiss suspicious behavior as “just kids” – but that may not actually be the case. Call your local police department (or 9-1-1 if it’s an emergency) if you see anything that looks unusual or illegal.
Halloween Safety Tips Outside the Home
As fun as Halloween can be, there are some very real dangers lurking in wait for children. You might want to think the best of strangers who are handing out treats, but not everyone has the same definition of ‘fun’, so you need to be aware and protect your children. Here are some Halloween safety tips to keep you and yours safe this spooky night.
- Check all treats before eating. Children should have their treats checked by adults before they eat them. Just to be safe, you might even want to consider tossing out anything that doesn’t come in a pre-wrapped package.
- Light up the night. Make your children easily visible with flashlights or glow sticks. Some restaurants and fast food places even give away transparent bags for candy that include a glow stick you can put inside the bag. This limits the amount of things your child has to carry but allows you to easily view them.
- Consider an alternative to trick-or-treat. You don’t have to take your children out to collect candy from strangers. Instead, you might take them to a haunted house or a hayride. If you do take them out, consider taking them to friends and relatives so you don’t have to worry about what they may get in their bag.
- Host your own Halloween. If you want to be able to keep your home and children safe at the same time, consider having your own Halloween party. This will allow you to choose what they get for Halloween and who they are around.
Make Use of Your Security System
Now is the perfect time to upgrade or add devices to your security system before Halloween gets here. Why the paranoia? Halloween is the one time of year when random strangers wander your neighborhood wearing masks and not drawing attention to the fact that their identity is hidden. You don’t want to fall victim to someone just because you did not make yourself aware of the time we live in and deal with your security system in a way that would keep your family safe.
- Adjust your security camera settings. If you have security cameras, you may want to adjust the areas that they are focused on. For instance, you might want to keep cameras on the doors and windows, but you also might want to put some focus on the streets around your house so that if any pranks are pulled, you can see where they came from and maybe even see who did them. Toilet paper rolls can be thrown from the street, as can eggs and other creative items.
- Make use of your timers. If you have timers on your lights, take care to have specific rooms light up every now and then. For instance, leave the living room light and television on, but use a timer to light up the kitchen light every now and then so that it looks like there are people in the house going to get a snack every now and then.
- Arm your security system. The excitement of getting ready for Halloween plans may make us forget to take simple safety precautions. Make sure to arm your security system (and lock doors and windows) before you leave your home.
Cell Phones are for Security
Cell phones are great for keeping you secure when you are out of the house. If your child does not have a cell phone and you are not the one taking him or her trick-or-treating, allow your child to borrow your phone.
- Check the charge. If your child has a cell phone, make sure it is fully charged. You might also want to make sure that he or she is in an area with good signal reception.
- Check your security system on a regular basis. A high-quality wireless security system will allow you to check in on your security system on Halloween from your phone. You can even get alerts to let you know if something is happening in your home. While you can also do this from a computer, you probably don’t want to carry your laptop as you take your kids out hunting for candy.
Use Common Sense
In addition to the measures mentioned above, be sure to use some common sense on Halloween. Make sure your children stay away from strange neighborhoods and they should never go inside someone’s house. There is no kind of candy that is worth a security risk. Try to travel with a group for maximum safety. If you have a home security system, make effective use of it. If you don’t have a home security system, now is a great time consider getting at least minimal protection.