How to Halloween-Proof Your Home
Halloween is just around the corner. It’s when ghouls and goblins scare and frighten. To be sure it’s safe when trick-or-treaters roam, there are things that you can do for your kids and your home.
First, sidewalks, stairs and porches should be clear and well-lighted. Remove hoses, ladders, planters and anything little ones can trip over. Repair cracks in paths using a concrete caulk and smooth out uneven surfaces with a concrete patching product. Replace loose or damaged bricks and repair damaged mortar at paths and porches. Check for rot in wood steps and porches and repair using a wood patch or replace boards as needed. Make sure that all walking surfaces are clean and dry to prevent slipping. Use a broom before trick-or-treaters arrive and wait till the morning after to use a garden hose to wash away any candy that may have missed bags or little mouths.
Halloween may be the ‘darkest’ night of the year, but it doesn’t have to be the deadliest. Having a well lit path can be as decorative as it is safe. Use battery-powered jack-o-lanterns and chemical light sticks for decorations (instead of candles), which can lead to fire.
A poorly lighted path is an accident waiting to happen…especially when one is burdened with an armful or groceries or packages. It’s a good time to consider permanent path lighting that will make paths safe all year round, not just on Halloween. These low-voltage systems are more affordable, energy-efficient and easier to install than ever. Although elements can be purchased piecemeal, most manufacturers offer a kit that contains everything needed to brighten up the exterior of your home…wire, transformer and fixtures.
While path lighting contributes to the safety of a home, it does have its limitations. Where more lighting “horsepower” is needed, such as at the front porch, consider motion-activated lighting. This type of light fixture turns on when a sensor detects motion…a feature that protects against intruders. Make a motion-activated front porch light fun for Halloween by replacing the standard bulb with a black light that will illuminate a scary poster or character on your front porch. Yikes!
Though you’ll likely hear the muffled call of ‘trick-or-treat’ through your entry door, there’s no better time than Halloween to make sure that your doorbell is in good working order. For a quick and easy fix, here’s what to do: the most common doorbell problem is corrosion on the contacts. A little of it is all it takes to break the electrical connection. To fix it, turn off the power and remove the button cover. Then loosen the screws holding the wires, and clean each wire where it connects (using sandpaper or emery cloth) until they shine. Clean the screw contacts, too. Then reattach them, turn on the power and test. If it still doesn’t ring, replace the button. And just for Halloween you can change the door chime to one that mimics ghosts, ghouls and goblins. BOOOOO!
Finally, consider healthful treat alternatives like boxes of raisins, cereal or trail mix. For kids’ costumes, bright colors with reflective tape are most visible. Be sure all materials are flame-resistant and fit properly — not too long (to prevent tripping) or too big and loose (to avoid catching on things). When it’s time to leave, review safety instructions, give each child a flashlight and put identification and quarters for phone calls in their pockets. Then as night falls, be sure Fido is secure (so as not to bite) and prepare yourself for trick-or-treater fright.
For more home improvement tips and information search our website at www.onthehouse.com or call our listener hotline 24/7 at 1-800-737-2474.