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Trick Or Threat – How To Keep Your Home Safe on Halloween?
By Mike Holmes
Friday, September 8th, 2023 @ 11:19am
Safety Tips for Halloween
Ghouls and goblins and fairies and princesses, they’re all going to be out October 31st for one of my favourite times of the year – Halloween. The children will have their bags of candies, their spooky costumes on and ready to make their way to your walkway to knock on your door. The question is, how safe is that walkway to your home? Are your street and home well-lit? Are there visible cracks or maybe ice forming on your roof? It can get really cold this time of year for some of us and that’s why it’s important to ask these questions before the scariest time of the year.
Now like I mentioned I love Halloween, I love to get out of the overalls and dress in something fun.
Those of you with children will probably be looking forward to Halloween as well. And when the kids dress up and come knocking at your door you need to make sure it’s safe for them to do so. Did you know that if someone gets hurt on your property due to your negligence you could be held liable?
Here are a couple of things to keep in mind when making your home safe this Halloween.
Watch Out For Slippery Walkways
As Canadians, we should expect any unexpected weather and that goes for some of you in the States. One week it’s warm and sunny and next week we could be covered in snow. You need to be prepared for the cold weather and those slippery walkways. Something commonly used by homeowners for walkways is deicers.
The most common deicer is sodium chloride—what many people call road or rock salt. It’s the most inexpensive. But there’s also calcium chloride, urea, potassium chloride and magnesium chloride. Calcium chloride and magnesium chloride melt ice faster than salt and because of that, they cost more. However, calcium chloride is corrosive. It destroys grass roots. Urea and potassium chloride can be found in fertilizer, so they’re safe for your lawn. The problem is that urea can be corrosive and potassium chloride damages concrete. Damaging concrete and grassroots? That’s not good.
I’m not a big fan of salt. And there are a few reasons why:
- It destroys your grass.
- It can make your pet sick.
- Salt only works best when the temperature is above -9 degrees Celsius (or 15 degrees Fahrenheit).
- It eats away at the mortar in the brick.
So what do I recommend? I’d rather use sand or gravel over salt because they’re safer natural alternatives. But no matter what deicers you decide to go with make sure you read the package and follow instructions.
Fixing Cracks In Your Driveaway And Concrete Walkway
Some of you might be lucky and don’t have to worry about snow or ice but you still need to worry about cracks. When filling in cracks in your walkways I recommend Sikaflex, a self-leveling sealant for ground application and concrete fix for vertical applications.
Trick or Trip
Most likely Old Man Winter didn’t show up early so no need to shovel snow or deice your walkway. If that’s the case you still need to inspect your walkway for tripping hazards. Make sure those spooky Halloween decorations you have plugged in are not a tripping hazard. Also keep things like hoses, sprinklers and random objects off the walkways.
Decorating tip from Eaton:
When decorating with lights, inspect and test each string before you hang it to make sure the cord isn’t damaged.
Candles can enhance the mood of a Halloween fright, but we know how busy the entrance to your home will be. Avoid burning candles because with all the traffic coming to your home you don’t want anyone bumping or knocking off candles that could potentially start a fire.
Also, avoid using candles in your Halloween pumpkins because the flame can still catch a costume or Halloween ornament. Keep it safe by using a light powered by a battery. Speaking of pumpkins, I would actually recommend spraying them with a mould-control product.
Decks & Handrails
If your home’s entrance includes a deck or porch you need to see if it requires maintenance. Unlike your home, the deck is exposed to the elements. Over the course of a deck’s lifetime, which can be 10 to 20 years or more, many of the deck’s connections might get worn out, and boards, posts, joists, railings and stairs could have started to decay or rot.
When checking your deck, look for any signs of deterioration, whether it’s cracking or decay along any wooden components, rust or corrosion on any hardware, or missing and loose connections, especially along stairs, railings, joists and deck boarding.
Helical piles are a great option for providing your deck with the extra support it needs and ensuring a sturdy foundation. And what’s great is that they’re quick to install, which means you can enjoy a safe front deck just in time for Halloween.
Also, when looking at handrails make sure they’re sturdy and not loose. You don’t want trick-or-treaters holding the handrails for support and the handrails giving away.
Did You Know?
Handrail assemblies and guards should be able to resist a single concentrated load of about 200 pounds, applied in any direction at any point along the top of the handrail.
Light Up The Way
I personally LOVE landscape lighting. I think it’s awesome for ambiance and to highlight features such as a tree or a water fountain. But outdoor lighting also serves another VERY important function. It creates a clear path to your house, which is important for safety.
Here’s what I love about the Philips Hue smart lights. They have over 16 million colour combinations and preset themes for you to choose from. Think about how much fun you can have with them for Halloween. You can also control it all from your phone and set it on a schedule so it goes on automatically as soon as it’s dark outside. How great is that!
Watch Out For Ice Dams
A truly scary thing is an ice dam; thick ridges of solid ice that build up along the eaves of your home. They can tear off gutters, loosen shingles, and cause water to back up and pour into your house. That’s why I’m a big fan of using an ice and water shield – all over a roof, as a secondary membrane.
Under the building code, the minimum requirement (which I don’t think is good enough) calls for the installation of roofing felt over the entire roof, and an ice and water shield just along the eaves. It forms a barrier and will help prevent moisture from working its way into your home.
There are some temporary solutions such as using a rake or using salt to clear the ice dam but the formation of ice dams on your roof is a bigger issue that needs to be addressed. It is dangerous for anyone to walk under the ice dams.
I can’t talk about how much electrical safety is important, especially around this time of year. With people putting up decorations and all kinds of lights there is an increased risk of electrical fires so BE CAREFUL and STAY SAFE!
Choose Outdoor-Rated Decorations:
First step is to make sure all your Halloween decorations and lights are rated for outdoor use. Otherwise, you risk electric shocks and fires happening and trust me this is not something you want to mess with. And imagine it rains or snows on Halloween this does not become a safe situation and can spark an electric fire.
Check Your Lights and Decorations For Any Signs Of Damage:
Next, before you start hanging up anything, take a close look at the cords and plugs. Any signs of wear or damage? If the answer is yes, get it fixed or better yet get it replaced with a new one.
Don’t run extension cords through doors or windows (even if it is for a short time). The cord could get damaged from rubbing against the door or window edges or being pinched in the frame.
Don’t forget about tripping hazards. Make sure any cords are taped down or fastened. You don’t want anyone tripping in the dark.
Avoid Overloading Your Electric Circuits:
I love to decorate my home, and I know that some people like to go all out. But please be careful with your electrical outlets.
It’s tempting to plug in everything at once, but overloading your circuit can lead to trouble. Grab some power strips with surge protection to help spread the load safely.
If you’re unsure about whether your electrical can handle the extra load ask a Licensed Electrical Contractor. To find a licensed electrical contractor near you visit: myhome.eaton.com or if you are in Ontario, Canada visit findacontractor.esasafe.com
Here’s another tip I recommend, get a surge protector installed. We install the Eaton surge protector every time we are renovating or fixing a home. It’s for the premium protection of the homeowners. A surge protector can be installed outside or inside an electrical panel or load centre. It detects an increase in voltage and safely diverts it through your home’s grounding path. This is especially important if you live in an area prone to thunderstorms.
Be Mindful Of Your Energy Consumption:
Plugging in a lot of decorations can definitely spike your energy bills. It might be a good idea to turn off your decorations overnight or when you’re not around to keep things safe and save power. You can also have them set to go off on a timer so that late at night when no one is passing by you’re conserving more energy and keeping your bills down.
Read more about outdoor safety from the Electrical Safety Authority here.
Keeping Unwanted Guests Away With Smart Locks
When it comes to home safety, you want to keep the spooky surprises outside your home, not inside. I love having a smart lock on my door because it gives peace of mind that I can lock my door from my phone and get alerted if anyone is trying to get into my house. And I know my daughter, Sherry feels the exact same way, especially with two kids —Halloween can be a busy night.
Picture this, you’re rushing out the door, kids in hand, costumes looking great, but you forgot to lock the front door. We’ve all been there. That’s why I love the Schlage Encode Plus smart lock. You can easily lock up from your smartphone, no matter where you are and set up to 100 unique codes so you know exactly who’s coming in and out of the house.
And when you’re coming back home with hands full of delicious candy and Halloween goodies, the last thing you want is to fumble around in your bag to find your keys, in the dark. That’s why I think the new Schlage Encode Plus tap to unlock feature is brilliant. You can simply tap your phone or Apple Watch, and your door unlocks.
This smart lock not only adds convenience but also gives you peace of mind your home is secure. It’s built tough and designed to with tamper resistance so if anyone tries to break in you’ll get alerted immediately.
BONUS TIP – Storing Your Halloween Decorations and Lights Safely
Lastly, when you are ready to put your Halloween decorations away, use clear, plastic bins rather than organic materials such as cardboard boxes. You don’t want your decorations to fall victim to mustiness and mould-related decay.
Using garage organization solutions like NewAge garage organizers can make storing your Halloween decorations and lights safely a fun and easy task. There are lots of great solutions to help store all your different items, like overhead racks especially if you have high ceilings in your garage, shelves, and both wall and floor cabinets to make the most of the available space.
Pro Tip: Before making any purchases, measure the size of your garage. Be sure to note the size and placement of any windows, doors, switches, or receptacles, and how much space your car occupies.
Once you have all the dimensions, you can schedule a meeting with a NewAge design specialist who will take you through a live demonstration of all the product options so you can make an informed decision. They will then create a 3D plan to help you visualize your space and choose colours and styles that complement your décor.
Halloween is a time for spooky fun, but we can’t forget about home safety. Well-maintained driveways and sidewalks, as well as decorations, can make all the difference. Don’t let icy walkways, tripping hazards, or potential electric fires ruin the night. When it’s time to pack away the spooky decor, think smart storage to keep things nice and organized. Let’s celebrate Halloween without any unwanted scares!