At summer's end, once school is back in session, many of us start looking forward to Halloween. It's a holiday adults can enjoy as much as kids. But, homeowners do have one serious obligation on this fun night: If you expect trick-or-treaters, you must make sure the path to your door is a safe one.
Take no trips
Inevitably, some giddy ghosts and ghouls will race excitedly to your door. Be prepared.
In the full light of day, inspect your lawn, driveway and front path for trip hazards like exposed tree roots, cracks in concrete or missing pavers. Make repairs where possible or, at the very least, cut off access to unsafe areas.
Meanwhile, if you've decorated the front yard with decorations like light-up pumpkins and animated figures, relocate the electrical cords so they're not in anyone's way.
Light the way
Make sure the path to your house is bright enough for trick-or-treaters to approach safely.
You don't need to install a full suite of year-round landscape lighting simply to accommodate visitors on Halloween night. There are plenty of temporary and affordable options for illumination, from glow sticks to tea lights.
And although it may seem more in keeping with the mood of this spooky night to switch off your porch light, it's much safer - not to mention more inviting - to keep it on.
Resist flammable decor
Whether vandals or accidents are to blame, there are many more fires on Halloween than a typical October night, according to Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). Holiday decorations are often quite flammable, involving materials such as paper, hay and dried cornstalks.
If you can't resist adorning your home and yard with such potentially dangerous items, then be sure to keep them away from candles and other heat sources. If jack-o'-lanterns or luminaries figure into your celebrations, illuminate them using LED tea lights, not open flames.
Curb your dog
Chances are yours is a friendly dog. But if some Halloween costumes are so convincing as to be frightening to small children, those same getups could be equally disturbing to your pooch - particularly on such a high-energy night.
It's good sense to contain your dog in an indoor space that’s both comfortable and secure.
A festive parade of goblins and ghouls, princesses and superheroes will soon be marching to your house. Do your part by clearing the path and lighting the way. Be safe out there, and have a Happy Halloween!
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Note: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinion or position of Zillow.
Originally published October 10, 2014.