CHICAGO (October 10, 2016) – Millions of Americans plan to celebrate Halloween this year. While your home may not look scary, the potential liabilities against your property can have frightening results.
When you invite people onto your property, such as trick-or-treaters on Halloween, you are responsible for making sure the property is safe and free from dangerous conditions. According to a study conducted by the Department of Research and Scientific Affairs, children ages 10-14 suffered the greatest amount of injuries on Halloween. When someone is injured because of a dangerous condition, they may be able to bring a premise liability claim against the property owner. Here are some tips to keep your property safe from a liability claim before little Zombies and Witches come knocking on your door.
Slip and Falls: According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, falls are the leading cause of unintentional injuries on Halloween. Make sure there is a clear, well-lit path to your front door. Clear away leaves and clean up all tripping hazards, including shovels, rakes, electrical cords and other debris – you have to be prepared for those who won’t stay within the lines. Having children stay on the sidewalk would be great, but some little trick-or-treaters will be running through the yard. It’s important there are no dangers in their way. Make sure there are no holes a small foot could fall into, or a small tree stump that could be missed in the dark.
Beware of Decorations: Halloween can be a fun time to decorate, but it is important to make sure there is a safe distance between trick-or-treaters and decorations that fly, pop up, or jump out. You don’t want a child to be knocked over (and traumatized) by a scary creature. Check to make sure electric cords are secured in place. Shop for plastic decorations instead of those made of metal, as an object like a metal pitchfork could cause more serious injuries if a child runs into it. If you plan to scare guests with actors who jump out or objects that pop out, don’t do it near stairs, as a visitor could fall down while jumping back.
Dog Bites: If you plan to have lots of people in costumes coming onto your property, keep your dog away, especially from the front door. Pets may get agitated, stressed or scared by new visitors in masks and wigs, and you don’t want to see your furry friend run outside, bite or jump on a child. Consider keeping pets in a separate room during peak trick-or-treating hours.
Fires: Use flashlights and flood lamps instead of candles and jack-o-lanterns to light areas outside and inside your house. By leaving fire out of the equation, you are less likely to see accidents happen. Remember, children may have flammable costumes, so while it’s important to have lights, avoid real candles.