Halloween can be a scary time of year. And not just because of terrifying costumes, spooky tales or fright-filled horror films on television.
According to US statistics, children are twice as likely to die on Halloween night than on any other night of the year. Crime also goes up by up to 50%. In the UK, insurance claims due to theft rise by more than 40%.
What can be done about it, though? Well, as it turns out… plenty.
Here are some of our top tips for keeping safe this Halloween:
Keeping your home safe
Keep your lights on
If you’re going out with your kids to knock on doors looking for sweet treats, you’re leaving behind a house that’s a beacon to any thieves or burglars in the area. Don’t tip them off. Keep your lights on.
While it’s possible they may knock to test if anyone’s in, perhaps a ‘no trick or treaters please’ sign might put them off and convince them that you’re on the sofa, ignoring the kids at the door.
Comprehensively lock your doors and windows
The raucous nature of Halloween night, coupled with lots of empty homes presents criminals with a tempting opportunity. Don’t make it easy for them. If you’re leaving your house unattended, make sure every single door and window is shut tight and locked.
This may sound super obvious but when you consider that 90% of people admit to occasionally leaving their house unlocked when they go out, it’s rather sound - if also rather basic - advice.
Install security cameras and/or a burglar alarm
Research has shown that 60% of burglars would actively avoid targeting a property if they spot that it has an active CCTV or alarm system.
Not only are both good year-round burglar/car thief/vandal deterrents, but camera systems can also provide vital evidence for police should you still find yourself a victim of crime at home.
Turn on any outside lights
Criminals prefer to operate in the shadows, in darkness. If you’re heading out for an hour or two trick or treating, consider leaving your house and driveway lit up. Motion sensor lights outside your front door will deter any prowlers, hanging about your property.
Park your car in the garage or off the street
If you’ve got somewhere else to keep your car for the night, it may be worth moving it. The reasons are two-fold - the chance of theft should, hopefully, be reduced. Also, and more to the point on Halloween night, it’s far less likely to get damaged. Either intentionally by Halloween vandals or accidentally by kids waving broomsticks and fake tridents about the place.
Be careful about your social media posting
If you and your kids - and maybe even pets - have some truly killer fancy dress costumes for Halloween, it’s going to be tempting to take some fun photos and maybe post them on social media. Be careful, though. If your pictures are posted publicly, you’re putting yourselves at risk of burglary.
Post the pictures along with a suggestion that you’ll be out and you may become a target. Some home intruders are known to monitor social media sites for marks. You’d be surprised how much information can be gleaned from a few Instagram posts or tweets.
If you want to post, feel free. Just do so after the event, once you’re back home. Failing that, try to limit your audience to just your close friends.
Keeping safe while trick or treating
Provide adult supervision at all times
It’s a fun time, but there must be ground rules for children when they’re out knocking on doors at Halloween. The only way to ensure those safety rules are stuck to is to ensure that there’s at least one supervising adult out with a group of children at all times.
Make sure kids are vigilant about ‘stranger danger’
It is, of course, important not to instil unnecessary levels of fear in children or make them paranoid about others or socially anxious. At the same time, they need to understand the potential dangers of other people.
The year-round rule of ‘don’t talk to strangers’ is harder to police on All Hallow’s Eve, of course. But monitored, it should be fine. The year-round rule of ‘don’t go inside a stranger’s house or get in their car’ still stands up, however. So remind all kids under your care of these important rules.
Do your part to keep elderly or vulnerable people safe
Trick-or-treaters need to keep themselves safe. However, anyone out knocking for sweets must also appreciate that they have a responsibility to keep others feeling safe.
If someone has a ‘no trick or treaters please’ sign up on their door or in their window, respect their wishes. Try not to knock on the door of any houses known to be lived in by elderly or vulnerable people. A night of noise and constant doorknocking may be frightening for some people.
Also, and this hardly needs saying, never try to ‘scare’ or ‘trick’ older people or those that really might not appreciate it. Even if it’s meant with harmless intentions.
Road safety is paramount
We’ll end with the most important safety tip for Halloween night - be extremely careful of cars when walking from house to house and from street to street. Shockingly, children are four times more likely to be involved in a serious or even fatal road traffic accident on October 31st.
Drink driving on Halloween doesn’t spike as much in Britain as it does in the States, but whether it’s criminal negligence, careless late-night driving or poor pedestrian conduct, the results can be catastrophic.
Whatever the reason that a car and a person may collide, it pays to ensure that everyone is walking on pavements and crossing roads safely.