Halloween is my favorite time of year. The weather has finally turned crisp. The leaves have either started turning colors or are already littering our yards. Minds begin to shift to what adorable or ghoulish costume they’ll put together. Then of course, there are people like myself, who begin thinking of how to make the neighborhood kids so scared they drop their candy buckets.

Most of us know basic Halloween safety, but here are a few things you may not have considered.


Decorating

We start off the season by putting up fake cobwebs, pumpkins, or ghosts. But where we put them could have more dire consequences than we realize. Decorations are the first thing to ignite in 900 reported home fires each year. Here are some tips to make sure your ghosts are always fake:

  • Dried flowers, cornstalks, crepe paper and fake cobwebs can catch fire easily. Make sure all decorations are away from open flames or other heat sources like light bulbs and heaters. Don’t drape fabrics over light bulbs. It may create a spooky ambience, but can also cause a fire.
  • Verify that all props that are hanging, dangling, draped, or staked are steadily secured. If there will be foot traffic, tape down loose wires with duct tape. This will limit tripping hazards. Plan to make sure that the tape is still secured throughout the evening.
  • Make sure all smoke alarms in the home are working and have fresh batteries!
  • Well placed lighting can cast sinister shadows, but make sure that your walkway is well-lit. If you use a fog machine, make sure the fog is thin enough so your visitors will be able to see any potential tripping hazards.
  • Speaking of fog machines, no one will tell you that they aren’t awesome. But they should be used sparingly and not in enclosed areas. Some guests may suffer from breathing ailments such as asthma. Make sure there is ventilation wherever you use one.
  • When plugging in decorations, avoid daisy chaining extension cords (plugging one into another), which may cause overheating or overload electrical outlets. Plug all outdoor lights and decorations into ground-fault circuit interrupters (GFCIs) to help reduce the risk of electric shock. Portable GFCIs for outdoor use can be purchased where electrical supplies are sold.
  • Never staple, nail through, or fasten electrical wires or extension cords in any way that might damage the wire or insulation. This could cause electrical shock or fire.
  • Remember to keep exits clear of decorations, so nothing blocks escape routes in case of danger or terror!


Jack-O’-Lanterns

They started off as carved gourds in Ireland in the 19th century, but thanks to Washington Irving’s short story, “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow,” they shifted to pumpkins. Now, pumpkins are the symbol of Halloween. They are fun to carve, but care should be taken when doing so!

  • It was always a rite of passage to see how many Band-Aids you needed from carving a pumpkin, but these days we’re all a bit smarter. Specific, inexpensive tools are available to hack and slash your jack o’ lantern!
  • Try to use a battery-operated candle or glow-stick in your jack-o’-lantern instead of a real candle.
  • Create your Gourd of Art on newspaper or absorbent paper towels. Scoop the pumpkin seeds and slimy innards into a bowl. This will lessen the amount of pumpkin guts to fall on the floor, and help you to avoid a slipping hazard.


Costumes

The perfect costume can make or break your Halloween experience. Here are some things to consider in the creation of your creepy couture:

  • Beware of long, trailing fabric. This can cause a tripping hazard for yourself and those around you.
  • When using makeup or face paint, follow all directions carefully. Don’t decorate your face with things that aren’t intended for skin. If you’re using a product you’ve never used before, try a dab of it on your arm for a couple of days to check for an allergic reaction. Even if you don’t know of any allergies, this is a great way to be sure the product hasn’t gone bad!
  • Changing the color of your eyes or even changing the shape of your pupil can have an awesome effect, but beware of cheap contacts and makeup. Test them out before you go out.
  • If you prefer using masks, make sure you have one that allows for unobstructed peripheral vision. Also, make sure you can breathe in your mask. That’s more than a little important. And don’t wear your mask while driving!
  • Don’t use real weapons! Plastic knives and swords look like real ones in the dark. The same goes for toy guns. Don’t paint over the orange tip of a toy weapon. It’s there to be iden
  • tifiable.
  • Test your costume out to make sure you can use the restroom easily! The more complicated the costume, the more you should test it out.


Trick-or-Treating

Halloween is the only time o’ year where taking candy from strangers is encouraged! Here are some ways to keep yourself and your wee monsters safe:

  • Always travel with friends or in a pack.
  • Provide children with flashlights to carry for lighting or glow sticks as part of their costume.
  • Add reflective tape to your kid’s costume (on the back of their shoes at the very least). If the costume doesn’t allow that, add it to their candy bag. They won’t lose that and will always keep it close!
  • Parents, go through your kids’ candy. There have been very few reports of actual tampering, but it is the best way to get samples of the best candies the kids have collected for yourself!

 

The last bit of advice I will give is to NOT play tricks on folks who don’t give out candy. It’s ok for them to not like Halloween as much as you do like it!

Have a happy and safe Halloween!

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About Rich Sigfrit:


Rich Sigfrit serves as an Instructional Developer in the Professional Learning and Instructional Design unit. Rich is a certified Adobe Trainer and has over 14 years of experience in graphic design, motion graphics, eLearning and the creation and delivery of online and print content. As an Instructional Developer, he works with subject matter experts to create engaging interactions for effective eLearning experiences.