Don’t burn the house down for Halloween

If neighborhood decorations are to be believed, it’s Halloween again. Or at least it’s Halloween season. Technically, Halloween is still a few weeks away. If you have children, or if you really love costumes or cosplay, you probably have the day circled on your calendar. Other people ignore it completely and simply keep their lights off, in the same way you’d be required to do if you were a convicted sex offender. Then there’s a third group of people. They’re the ones who don’t necessarily get into the “spirit” of Halloween, but they feel an obligation as a neighborhood citizen to, at the very least, hand out candy. This might seem like an easy task. All you have to do is remember to pick up some pre-packaged tiny candy bars at the grocery store. Veterans of this practice also know the importance of purchasing primarily candy you don’t personally enjoy. That generally assures that there’s some left on October 31st for the trick-or-treaters. Or if you’re determined to only give out something delicious, it might be a good idea to buy it the afternoon of Halloween. Stores don’t close for Halloween, so this shouldn’t be difficult. As Halloween creeps ever closer, ServiceMaster Restore has a short list of essential safety tips for homeowners to ensure a safe trick-or-treating and decoration-enjoying experience. Most of the tips have to do with preventing fires. Data from the National Fire Prevention Association shows that Halloween decorations caused 790 home fires in the period from 2015 to 2019. Forty-five percent of those were due to the proximity of heat to things that burn. Candles caused about a third of the fires, resulting in about 13 million dollars in damage every year. For decoration safety, here’s what they recommend. 1 – Prevent fire hazards during Halloween by exclusively using battery-operated candles or LED lights in jack-o-lanterns and other decorations. That will minimize the risk associated with traditional candles, which operate with actual fire. 2 – Prevent fires by keeping flammable materials away from fire sources like fireplaces, wood-burning stoves, candles and outdoor fire pits. If you’re using any paper decorations or streamers or fake spider webs, remember that those are flammable. 3 – Make sure inflatable decorations are secured properly and kept away from sources of ignition. In addition to fire safety, they also have some recommendations when it comes to yard maintenance. If you live in an apartment, feel free to skip over this part. 1 – Remove debris. Clear your yard of leaves, sticks and other debris to minimize tripping hazards for visitors, which will include everyone from toddlers to grandparents. 2 – Check your exterior lighting. Ensure that all your exterior lights, including path lights, porch lights and Halloween decorations, are in working order. 3 – Secure your steps and railings. There’s never a guarantee of smooth sailing, but performing each of the suggested tasks will at least improve your odds. Incidentally, if you feel your yard has too much debris to clear between now and Halloween, see any Jeff Foxworthy performance.