Last week we talked about trick-or-treating tips for your kids; this week, it's all about safety guidelines for homeowners.

Lots of people really get into Halloween decorations, with homemade "cemeteries" in their lawns, DIY Haunted Houses on their driveways, loads of lights, and lots of hanging skeletons, cobwebs and, of course, Jack o' Lanterns. But, as with anything, these decorations can pose a safety risk if you're not careful. Here are 5 safety tips every homeowner needs to follow:

1. Use LED Lights
Lit candles or luminaries look really nice, but they also pose a fire hazard. Trick-or-treaters can easily knock over the lit candles lining your front walk, injuring themselves and potentially starting a fire. Instead of real candles, opt for LED lights, battery-powered candles or even strands of orange holiday lights around your front porch.

2. Clear the Way
Make sure the path from your driveway or the sidewalk to the front door is free from obstructions or hazards. Repair loose porch railings or steps, repave and cracked concrete on your driveway or anything else that may pose a safety threat to trick-or-treaters. If you add spooky yard decorations like tombstones, fake cobwebs or mummies, be sure that these decorations do not obstruct any pathways. If your front door is located at the top of a lot of steps or you're unable to make repairs, camp out at the end of your driveway to greet kids there!

3. Do Yard Work
Similar to the previous point, make sure your yard is free from hazards like holes or uneven ground, branches or wet leaves and lawn equipment. Sure, kids are supposed to walk on the sidewalks -- but little trick-or-treaters often get excited and cut through yards.

4. Keep Spot Inside.
The constant ringing of the doorbell, barrage of kids and unfamiliar costumes, smells and activity is generally too much for many pets -- and scared dogs or cats can dart out the front door -- or, even worse, possibly hurt one of the trick-or-treaters. Keep your pet in a separate room with some treats and his favorite blanket. If you have a dog, take him for a big walk beforehand to calm him down a little.

5. Check your Homeowner's Insurance.
Halloween is a fun way to bond as a community and get to know your neighbors. However, the fact of the matter is, opening up your home to visitors of any kind can expose you to potential insurance claims and lawsuits. Check your insurance policy or call your agent to make sure your house is covered should an accident happen.

Note: while these tips should keep you and the kids in your neighborhood safe this Halloween, we don't have any advice for the dreaded, post-trick-or-treat candy coma.

Sources: 1. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Halloween Health and Safety Tips | 2. ASPCA, Halloween Safety Tips.
Photo Credit: Sarah M.
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