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Keven Moore: Spooky homeowner claims to avoid during this Halloween season

Halloween is a fun time of year with all the costumes, pumpkins, and decorations. It’s that time of year when kids come up to your door to shake you down for candy, as they say, “trick or treat” as you are gladly willing to hand out a fistful of candy to avoid having to smell their feet.

Growing up in my neighborhood if you were too stingy with the candy you may wake up the next morning to find your pumpkin spattered all across the sidewalk. As for me, growing up I was too busy trying to beat the system to become a nuisance to society, as my single goal was to obtain as much candy as I possibly get my hands on.

Keven Moore works in risk management services. He has a bachelor’s degree from the University of Kentucky, a master’s from Eastern Kentucky University and 25-plus years of experience in the safety and insurance profession. He is also an expert witness. He lives in Lexington with his family and works out of both Lexington and Northern Kentucky. Keven can be reached at kmoore@higusa.com

Back then kids trick or treated without parents, and I was only allowed to trick or treat on my street and another street that ran in between my horseshoe shape street. According to my calculations, this only left me with a total of 83 houses to visit and with a 2-1 participation rate of homes, I figured that this only gave me a total of 55.4 homes to mine for candy.

So I devised a plan to harvest as much candy as possible, but I had to first ditch my sister to maximize yield, as she simply would slow me down. The plan was to stop and change into a different costume after completing the circuit.

The first change of outfits was to put on last year’s costume and I would always empty my pillowcase so that my neighbors would feel sorry for me and give me a couple of extra pieces of candy. The 3rd round was either a football helmet and jersey or a cowboy outfit as everybody back then always had fake guns and a cowboy hat.

The final round was to be a ghost as I used a sheet with two holes cut so that I could see thru. The sheet was also a strategic decision to hide my identity, because, after the 2nd and 3rd time thru the neighborhood, many mothers and fathers would begin to catch on to my plan, and would begin asking “haven’t you been here already” and short me with only one piece of candy.

That last round was a bit more dangerous for me as well, as I was always tripping and falling over that sheet as I was trying to look through those beady-eyed holes as I made my way thru the dark witching hours of my neighborhood.

But what makes Halloween so entertaining can also make the holiday dangerous, and as a homeowner, I am now more concerned today with the liability and safety issues of the holiday than a candy haul.

So as this Halloween season rolls around let me suggest the following risk management and safety suggestions to keep you and your neighbors safe:

• Keep Your Property Illuminated – Trick-or-treaters will be coming and going throughout the evening, so properly illuminate the walking paths to your front door. You have to remember the litigious society in which we live in today, and anytime you have people entering on to your property you stand a chance for a potential lawsuit.

• Keep Property Free of Trip Hazards – Keep the area around your home and walking paths clear so that children and accompanying parents don’t stumble and injure themselves. You should also clear your lawn of hoses, gardening tools, toys that could serve as additional trip hazards.

• Be Watchful With Candles – Good Halloween home safety practices should consist of being extra careful with lit candles around the house and on your front porch, where trick-or-treaters may bump into them. A candle illuminated walkway will create spooky environment but this also presents a real threat to catching a child’s costume on fire after they could easily bump into a candle and a lit jack-o’-lantern.

• Restrain Your Pets – Keep dogs and cats away from the front door so that they don’t jump on or bite trick-or-treater, as Halloween can be downright spooky for you pet. While every state has different rules, homeowners policies typically cover the liability and medical expenses related to an accident in your home. If your dog is excluded from the policy, which isn’t common, you would be responsible for the costs. Also remember to keep them away from Halloween décor so that they don’t chew on electrical cords which could cause fires.

• Invest in Motion Alarms and Good Security – Halloween is that time of the year where teenagers feel the need to become pranksters and to look for mischievous opportunities. In addition to improving outdoor lighting, it’s always a good practice to invest in good security hardware for your doors, alarms, and motion sensing lights to deter such activity. It’s always a good idea if you are going to be gone fore the evening to leave lights on and maybe even on a timer.

• Park Your Car In The Garage – Mischievous acts and vandalism are common during this time of year, which means your personal property could be at risk. Since egging cars is a rite of passage for many teenagers on Halloween, be sure to park vehicle off the street and in your garage and keep a good count on your eggs if you have teenagers.

• Check The Smoke Alarms – With the increase of candles during the Halloween season its always a good idea to check your smoke alarms and replace the batteries to prevent, or minimize damage from a fire.

• Be a Responsible Host/Hostess – Several states have passed “social host” laws that expose homeowners, as party hosts, to liability risks for serving alcohol. “Witches’ brew in your punch bowl can place a homeowner at risk for a post-party accident, which can be very emotional and have lasting legal implications to a home-owner. Therefore, to play it safe avoid serving alcohol, but if you do, don’t serve to underage drinkers and stop serving alcohol at least an hour before the party ends. Another risk avoidance tactic is to hire a professional bartender that has been trained in “Tips “training that can recognize signs of intoxication and limit consumption. Then finally be sure to arrange transportation and designated drivers for those that have had too much.

• Don’t Scare The Guest – Unlike haunted houses you can’t rely on the courts to rule in your favor after you scare the bejeebees out of someone which caused an injury. So sitting in the bushes or behind a prop to scare visitors may not be in your best interest. The duty of care owed to patrons for paid haunted house is different than to a homeowner, because courts recognize that they are intended to scare people and accomplish that end by producing an environment with limited lighting and scary surprises. But as a homeowner, those guests haven’t paid to enter your property, and any claims resulting from you jumping off the porch to scare someone will be burden by you the homeowner. If you insist on hosting your very own haunted house, you should contact your insurance agent for a one-time special event policy to protect your backside.

Remember as a homeowner it’s your duty to protect those who come on to your property regardless of your level of participation for this holiday. It’s also your duty to freely distribute handfuls of candy to those little visitors, to ensure compliance to the “Trick or Treat” verbal contract that those little ghost and goblins make with you on your front porch.

Be Safe My Friends

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