The town that I live in, Warwick, NY is a truly festive place during autumn. Throngs of tourists visit to run through corn mazes and pick apples, Warwick hosts one of the largest street fairs in the country with "Applefest" and Halloween is considered one of the highlights of harvest season with a parade through the village and cider and donuts for all in the Railroad Green Park.

But with every frightful haunted house visit and every kid in a costume, running across a front lawn seeking candy, there are always issues of safety and liability. (And no, I am not attempting to spoil your fun ... I love Halloween. It's just that "life happens" and I thought this might be a good time to for a quick reminder on keeping everybody safe, before the kids are let loose to terrorize and seek treats).

NINE IMPORTANT SAFETY TIPS TO KEEP YOUR HALLOWEEN FROM TURNING INTO A HORROR SHOW:

HAUNTED MANSIONS AND SLAUGHTERHOUSES: I will never forget three decades ago, when a group of thrill-seekers perished in a Haunted House at Six Flags Great Adventure. An accidental spark lit the entire amusement up, and with the nature of scare attractions, (low lighting, bulky scenery, and twisting pathways), they never had a chance. Regulations have changed drastically as a result of that disaster, but it is always a good idea to keep the following safety guidelines: 

  1. Don't enter a haunted house or any attraction that does not have an automatic fire sprinkler system.
  2. Outdoor attractions are much safer then any indoor attractions which are confining, confusing and disorienting.
  3. Part of moving through an attraction is the suspension of belief, but it it always a good idea to have a reality check and make sure that all exits and emergency escapes are marked and in your line of sight.
  4. And lastly, it is not a bad idea, to bring a flashlight inside with you, just in case of power outage or emergency.

 HOMEOWNER LAWN ORNAMENTS AND DECORATIONS: A huge spider blowup on the front lawn, a fog machine, Tiki torches, and jack-o-lanterns, your house is the coolest on the block. Every kid cannot wait to finish trick-or-treating and head on over to your home. And it only takes one to take a tumble on the driveway because of low lighting to ruin the entire evening (and cause you to have to deal with possible litigation.)

  1. Extension Cords: Kids are excited while running around in costume, and between the masks, sugar rush and darkness they don't exactly focus on watching their step. Extension cords running across your property can trip up a toddler and send him careening face-first into the asphalt. It is always good to provide a path for kids to follow from the driveway to the front door.
  2. Keeping it Bright and Cheerful: Although there is a certain ambiance to dark and spooky, remember again that neighbors will be on your property and you have responsibility to keep them safe. Remove autos from driveway if you can, make sure the front steps are well lit.  Strobe lights can daze people who are walking, so point them away from a person's field of vision. Remove sprinklers and hoses front the front lawn. If rain is in the forecast, remove leaves from the driveway, they can be slippery.
  3. Use Fire Retardant Materials in Decorating  - Cornstalks, dried flowers, straw and fake cotton spider webs do not mix with candles, torches and jack-o-lanterns. Keep outdoor flames to a minimum. Never leave fire unattended. And your best-bet is to use electric candles and lights where possible.

  OTHER THOUGHTS: Because the only regret I want you to have concerning Halloween, is that you ate too many Reese's Pieces.

  1. Halloween often drives dogs crazy. The doorbell is constantly ringing, strangers are on the steps. Now is a good time to place "Fido" in the basement or bedroom for a few hours with soft music and his favorite toys. A frightened or anxious pet may dart out the front door and hurt or scare a child.
  2. Check your Homeowners Coverage: Halloween is a time when friends, neighbors and small children will be descending upon your front door for treats. Anytime anyone enters your property, invited or not, it can open you up to potential insurance claims and lawsuits. Now is the perfect time to make sure that your insurance coverage is adequate and up to date. 

Have fun this Halloween. With a little preparation and common sense, every ghost and ghoul should have a a "ghastly" good time.

For more Halloween Safety Hints and Trick or Treating Tips Click on the Links Below:

http://www.cdc.gov/family/halloween/

http://www.safekids.org/tip/halloween-safety-tips

http://www.nyc.gov/html/nypd/downloads/pdf/crime_prevention/HalloweenSafetyTips.pdf