On The House
Halloween-proofing your home
By James and Morris Carey
For The Associated Press
Halloween is just around the corner, and if you’re not careful, your home could give fright to the neighborhood ghouls and goblins.
To be sure it’s safe when trick-or-treaters roam, take these steps to make sure the children are safe and your sidewalks, stairs and porches are clear and well-lighted:
Clear the way
First, remove hoses, ladders, planters and anything little ones can trip over. Repair cracks in paths using a concrete caulk and smooth out uneven surfaces with a concrete patching product. Replace loose or damaged bricks and mortar, and check for rot in wood steps and porches. Repair using a wood patch or replace boards as needed.
Then make sure that all walking surfaces are clean and dry to prevent slipping. Use a broom before trick-or-treaters arrive and wait till the morning after to use a garden hose to wash away any candy that may have missed bags or little mouths.
Light up the night
Halloween may be the “darkest” night of the year, but it doesn’t have to be the deadliest. Use battery-powered jack-o-lanterns and chemical light sticks for decorations instead of candles, which can lead to fire.
It’s also a good time to consider permanent path lighting that will make paths safe all year round — a poorly lighted path is an accident waiting to happen. These low-voltage systems are more affordable, energy-efficient and easier to install than ever. Although elements can be purchased piecemeal, most manufacturers offer a kit that contains everything needed to brighten up the exterior of your home.
Where more lighting is needed, such as at the front porch, consider motion-activated lighting. This type of light fixture turns on when a sensor detects motion, a feature that protects against intruders. Make a motion-activated front porch light fun for Halloween by replacing the standard bulb with a black light.
Sound the alarm
Though you’ll likely hear the muffled call of ‘trick-or-treat’ through your entry door, there’s no better time than Halloween to make sure that your doorbell is in good working order.
For a quick and easy fix, here’s what to do: the most common doorbell problem is corrosion on the contacts. A little of it is all it takes to break the electrical connection. To fix it, turn off the power and remove the button cover. Then loosen the screws holding the wires, and clean each wire where it connects (using sandpaper or emery cloth) until they shine. Clean the screw contacts, too. Then reattach them, turn on the power and test.
If it still doesn’t ring, replace the button. And just for Halloween you can change the door chime to one that mimics ghosts, ghouls and goblins.
Protect the children
Finally, for children’s costumes, bright colors with reflective tape are most visible. Be sure all materials are flame-resistant and fit properly — not long enough to cause tripping, or loose enough to catch on things.
When it’s time to leave, review safety instructions, give each child a flashlight and put identification and quarters for phone calls in their pockets (or a cell phone). Then as night falls, be sure Fido is secure (so as not to bite) and prepare yourself for a trick-free night.
Copyright 2005 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
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