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Avoid Liability for Halloween Accidents
Halloween has many known dangers, ranging from frightened toddlers to upset stomachs to cavities. But you may not have considered that the holiday could pose safety and liability risks unless you take preventive measures.
First, if you are not going to be home or don’t want to hand out treats, leave your porch light off. In most places, the understanding is that if your light is off you don’t want people to come to your door. But if the light is on, you usually are considered to be welcoming trick-or-treaters – and therefore could be risking liability.
If you do want to hand out treats, there are some steps you should take to keep your tiny visitors – and their escorts – safe:
- Clear your sidewalks and steps of all tripping hazards. Remember that it is dark and most of the revelers will be wearing masks or costumes that might obscure their vision. Remove any bikes, skateboards, balls, etc. so that there is a clear path to the door. And make sure your sidewalk and door are well-lit.
- Never use real candles in jack-o-lanterns that are anywhere children in flowing costumes could brush against them. Unfortunately, many children’s costumes are flammable. Also, don’t use dry ice or fog machines to create a spooky atmosphere. At worst they can cause injury. At best they make it hard to see.
- If you have a dog, think about closing the dog in an interior room of your house. Some children are afraid of dogs and might be startled and try to get away, perhaps falling in the process. And even the best dog can get excited by all the commotion and jump at a child or even be more aggressive – or just bolt out the door and run away.
Also, remember that Halloween is no longer only about the kids. Lots of adults host Halloween costume parties. And like any party at which alcohol is served, there is potential liability.
If you are hosting a party at which people will be drinking, make sure that you have plenty of food available to help offset the drinks. Keep a careful eye on your guests, and arrange for a ride home for any who appear to have had too much to drink. Never let someone drive off from a party – of any sort – at your home if that person is impaired.
If your older kids are hosting a party, make sure you monitor what’s going on. If someone is drinking at your home and leaves and causes damage or injury, you could be liable whether you knew they were drinking or not. So make it your business to know.
Of course, after Halloween comes a whole series of holidays – Thanksgiving, the holidays, New Year’s Eve – that carry similar risks if you entertain in your home. This might be a good time to review your liability coverages. We would be happy to talk with you about this or any other insurance or risk management need. Contact us at 847-572-0828 or firstname.lastname@example.org.