There are a few things that homeowners should consider in order to make their homes and entryways safe for all those ghosts and goblins--especially the ones wearing long capes, large masks, and flammable costume fabrics! (None of which are a great idea, by the way. See a great example at the right).
There's nothing surprising here, but it's a great idea to take a moment to make sure your home is ready for Halloween in the following ways:
1. Fix wobbly stairs.
The last thing you want on a night when you KNOW you are going to have a ton of foot-traffic, is a chance for anyone to lose their footing. If you even trip up occasionally in places in your yard, just imagine how someone who doesn't know the property well will fare (especially if they are running, which is not usually how people approach your door, but is often the case on Halloween).
2. Make sure your home is very well lit.
Not only will this send a message to your neighborhood that you are participating in the night's festivities, but it will also ensure that those little tykes can see where they are going as they approach your door. Have your porch light on and the walkway lights too, if you have them. If your property is particularly dark, you might consider placing a temporary spotlight somewhere (they have the kind that spike right into your lawn--just make sure it's out of the way of traffic).
3. Make sure handrails/railings are secure.
As your guests mount the stairs and grab onto the railing, it should not wobble, or--for goodness sake--come loose in anyway. Fix and/or reinforce it as necessary ASAP. (This is also something guests visiting your home anytime of year will probably appreciate).
4. Clear all walkways.
OK this is a no-brainer. Make sure your walkways are free of sticks, stones and any other debris that could be a tripping hazard. Keep in mind that even things like potted mums, for example, can be an unwelcome surprise in the dark. It' best to save your decorations for well lit areas that are out of the way of little feet.
5. Clear "alternate" walkways.
Now think back to your own trick-or-treating days...how often did you use the appropriate paths, driveways, and sidewalks to get from house to house? Uh-huh. We thought so. Chances are, your front walk won't be the only way children get to your front door this year, so be sure to check around your entire property and trim low tree limbs, support any wires, put away garden hoses, etc.
6. Avoid creating fire hazards with your decorations.
Keep lit Jack-O-Lanterns well out of reach of young children and far from clothing of tots gathered at your door. Any candles etc. should be well away from areas where children will be walking or standing. And hey, they have so many great battery-operated candles these days, you might skip the fire hazard all-together.