NASHVILLE - According to the U.S. Census Bureau more than 36 million children go trick-or-treating each year. Dressing up in costume, collecting candy and carving pumpkins are all time-honored traditions of Halloween. But Oct. 31 could also be a scary night -- for all the wrong reasons. Every year we drive on crowded neighborhood streets and invite all the neighborhood children onto our property.
"Homeowners need to realize they can be held liable should a trick-or-treater be injured on their property," says Allison Hatcher, spokesperson for Allstate Insurance Company's Southern Region. "We need to be extra vigilant about safety during this time and we also need to make sure we have the right amount of insurance protection."
It is recommended that homeowners take the following steps to help ensure a safe Halloween for everyone:
* Check your outdoor lighting: Make sure your property is adequately lit before trick-or-treaters arrive.
* Inspect your property: Make sure the path to your door is safe. Look for cracks in the sidewalk and loose stair railings. Remove any obstacles that can lead to a trip or fall.
* Watch the decorations: Make sure decorations are not obscuring walkways and causing hazards. Use artificial lighting instead of candles to reduce the risk of fire-related accidents. If you do use candles, make sure you extinguish them before going to bed.
* Drive carefully: Neighborhood streets will be crowded. Use extra caution while driving. According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, Oct. 31 is the second highest pedestrian death day of the year behind July 4.
* Keep Your Pets Inside: Even if your dog enjoys the parade of children that arrives on your doorstep each year, the neighborhood children may not enjoy meeting your family pet.
It's also recommended that all homeowners contact their insurance agent before Halloween and make sure they are adequately covered in the event someone is injured on their property. While a homeowner's policy provides a level of liability protection, it may not be sufficient protection if injuries are severe. A personal umbrella policy works with the homeowner's liability coverage and provides additional protection.