Halloween is a fun and spooky time of the year. It signifies the changing seasons and kicks off some of America’s favorite holidays. However, don’t let your house haunt you! Follow these five safety guidelines when decorating for the season and be on the lookout for four signs that indicate your home needs maintenance.
Inspect All Decorations and Lights Before Hanging Them
Generally, today’s holiday lights have built-on safety features; however, you should still inspect your light strands and decorations before you put them out. Look for missing or broken bulbs and frayed or bare wires. Also, make sure the lights and decorations are built to be outside if you’re looking to hang outdoor decorations.
When you’re ready to decorate, be sure to keep extension cords away from water, keep lights away from dry trees or shrubs, and follow the safety best practices when hanging decorations.
Hang Decorations Appropriately
While you may have a distinct vision for your perfect haunted house, be sure to decorate appropriately by following these guidelines:
- Securely fasten your decorations. If you’re hanging items on the wall, make sure they won’t fall. If you are installing a tall decoration, make sure it has extra support to keep it from falling over.
- Don’t just hang decorations anywhere. Be mindful of where you are hanging decorations and avoid using the roof, gutters or siding when possible.
- Protect your pets and kids. If you have pets or kids, be careful about where you place your decorations. Keep dangerous items or those that pose choking hazards out of reach and install decorations strategically in the yard to reduce trip hazards.
- Practice safety. When hanging decorations this season, take extra precautions. Secure your ladder before climbing up, don’t staple or tack into electrical wires, and always have someone helping you.
Keep Flammable Materials Away From Fire and Heat
As the temperature drops, so does the humidity level in the air. This drier weather increases the risk of fire, so extra precautions should be taken when decorating with flammable materials.
Flammable materials are any items that are at serious risk of catching fire. The most common flammable Halloween decorations include cobwebs, costumes, paper jack-o-lanterns, corn stalks and leaves. To reduce the risk of fire:
- Use battery-powered or LED candles instead of real candles
- Use flame-retardant materials when making costumes
- Don’t decorate with flammable materials near electrical circuits or wires
Don’t Overload Your Electrical Circuit
Many decorations today include fun lights, animatronics and sounds. While these features add a cool and spooky feel, they can add a serious load to your electrical panel. Be careful when installing decorations by:
- Not plugging one extension cord into another
- Plugging too many cords into one outlet or power strip
- Keeping all the lights on in the home
- Running decorations all night long
If you’re looking to create an extra scary haunted house or have a lot of plug-in decorations, there are ways to still enjoy them. Consider investing in battery-powered decorations or a backup generator to reduce the load.
Take Pictures of the Property Before and After Trick or Treating
We’d all love to think about nothing happening to our homes on Halloween night, but the truth is houses get egged, toilet papered, and spray painted. Protect your home by parking cars in the garage, installing security cameras, and taking pictures beforehand. Having photo proof of your home’s condition will help in the event you need to file an insurance claim.
Four Signs Your Home May Be Haunted By Home Maintenance Issues:
Deathly smells - Bad odors are common signs that something is wrong such as mold buildup, leaks or moisture issues, or sewage backup. Start by finding where the smell is coming from, and depending on the severity, call your local inspector to help you identify and mitigate the root of the problem.
Mold – This fungus is a clear indicator that moisture issues are present. Mold is more commonly found in kitchens, bathrooms and laundry rooms, where water and pipes are present. Mold builds up over time, can be difficult to completely remove and presents serious health risks if not dealt with in a timely manner. If you suspect mold, get it tested right away to stop the problem in its tracks.
Creaking floors – While loud and squeaky floors can be more of a nuisance than anything, they could be a sign of something else such as an incorrectly installed subfloor or loose floorboards. Start by walking slowly around your house, carefully marking any areas where the floors creak. Look to see if there are just a few areas or many areas, and if there are any patterns in their location. If you notice anything unusual, you may want to bring in a trained professional.
Cracks and gaps in walls, floors, and ceilings – It's perfectly normal for homes to settle and shift as they age; however, if you notice large or long cracks or gaps in your walls, floors and ceilings, this could be a sign of something more serious.
At WIN, we’re all about keeping the home safe and fun for everyone. This Halloween, remember to hang your decorations with care and keep a cautious eye on the lookout for home maintenance. By following these guidelines, you can create a spooktacular haunted house rather than have your house haunt you!
If you’re in need of a Home Maintenance Inspection, our expert Home Inspectors are here to help! Find your local inspector to get started.