CHICAGO — With the fun and excitement of Halloween, it’s easy to forget about the need to take extra safety precautions. The risk of pedestrian fatalities, particularly from drunk or distracted drivers increases significantly, as does the potential for candles and decorations to cause home fires. The Property Casualty Insurers Association of America (PCI) has a series of simple steps that every homeowner and driver can take to help make it a safe and claim-free Halloween.
1. Pay Attention to the Road
“Use caution when driving on Halloween as trick-or-treaters could dart out in front of your vehicle,” said Christopher Hackett, PCI senior director of personal lines policy. “It is getting darker earlier, which makes it extremely important for drivers to be alert for trick or treaters. The excitement of getting to the next house or joining a friend across the street can cause children to unexpectedly run into traffic.”
According to Safe Kids Worldwide, on average, children are more than twice as likely to be hit and killed by a car on Halloween than on any other day of the year. “With so many distractions, it’s important for drivers to be extra cautious and look for trick or treaters who might be dressed in darker clothing. Insurers stress the importance of staying off the phone while driving and planning your route ahead of time, so you can stay focused on the road,” added Hackett.
2. Designate a Driver
Halloween is a particularly deadly night due to drunk drivers. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports that Halloween drunk driving fatalities are on the rise. “Statistics show there’s been a steady increase in fatalities each year on Halloween, which is why it’s important to plan a safe ride home if you do plan to drink,” said Hackett.
3. Protect your Vehicles
Unfortunately, along with the candy, costumes, and fun, a little mischief can also accompany Halloween. A Highway Loss Data Institute analysis showed that Halloween had the highest number of vandalism claims. A recent National Insurance Crime Bureau report shows there are more vehicle thefts on Halloween than any other holiday and more thefts than on an average day.
“Remember to park your car in a safe, well-lit location or keep it inside a garage and make sure it’s locked and alarmed,” said Hackett.
4. Protect your Property
“Keep the path to your front door well-lit and free of obstacles that could cause falls,” said Hackett. Keep in mind that the annual family tradition of carving pumpkins and using candles for lighting can be a major fire hazard. The National Fire Protection Association reports that decorations cause nearly 1,000 home fires each year. “It’s a good idea to use battery operated candles instead to prevent the unthinkable from happening,” said Hackett.
5.) Update your Insurance
Review your property insurance policy, know what your deductible is and what type of coverage options you have in case the unthinkable does happen. “We recommend at least once a year, you contact your agent or company and ask important questions about your policy and if you need make any updates,” added Hackett.
PCI Tips how to have a claims-free Halloween:
Park cars in well-lit areas or inside a garage
Lock cars, close windows and turn on car alarms
Watch out for kids crossing streets or walking between cars
Drive slower in busy neighborhoods full of trick-or-treaters
Stay off your phone (both when walking or driving)
Dress kids in flame retardant costumes only
Keep walkways and paths well-lit and clear to avoid falling trick-or-treaters
Keep dogs on a leash. Don’t let aggressive dogs rush trick-or-treaters at the door
Make sure children wear comfortable shoes and can see out of their costume
Don’t put candles where kids or pets can knock them over
Don’t let children play with candles, matches, or lighters
Don’t put candles in bedrooms or sleeping locations
Don’t leave candles unattended or on over night
Use battery-operated candles