Since Halloween is coming up in a few days, and kiddos will be roaming around the streets and maybe even on your property, I thought outdoor safety might be a timely topic.

I can hear some of my readers already saying, “But I don’t participate in Halloween festivities.” That may be true, but I think the goings-on may still affect most of us, whether out porch lights are out of not. So please bear with me!

There are so many safety concerns to consider outdoors when it comes to Halloween. Some of them are obvious, and some maybe not so much. Let’s take our yards, for instance. Kids excited about candy don’t always follow the proper etiquette when trick-or-treating. So we should probably look out at the possible walking paths kids might take. If we have jack-o’-lanterns, we need to make sure to use battery-operated candles instead of open flames.

Extension cords may be used, but keep them away from sidewalks. Never overload outlets and cause circuit breakers to pop. Only use lights and extension cords labeled for outside use. And remember to unplug them when you are through handing out candy or head to bed.

Heavy signs or metal objects that could fall over if touched should be braced well. Other tripping sources, such as flower pots, bushes, plants with thorns or stickers, or trailing ivy that have overgrown onto the walking paths, should be removed or trimmed. Even if it’s not dark, kids with masks and in large groups aren’t thinking and looking for possible sources of danger or injury.

If you do pass out candy, make sure the area is well lit. Encourage the kiddos to stay together and walk carefully along the sidewalks. Many folks will sit out on the porch and hand out candy, so you will be clearly visible. It wouldn’t be a bad idea to sit at your curb near an intersection and watch for kids crossing where traffic is moving. Or you could put a safety cone or sign reminding drivers to watch for children.

Make sure if you decorate your yard to keep the decorations on the lawn and out of the path of trick-or-treaters. Scary is fun for the older kids but smaller kiddos cannot handle the “jumping out of the dark” surprises and gory items. Know your neighborhood kids and use age-appropriate decorations. If creepy, haunting music is being played over speakers, make sure it’s not so loud that it bothers the neighbors. The same goes with lighting, fog machines and strobe lights. Make sure they are not pointed in the direction of neighbors.

Halloween is meant for fun, and following a few safety precautions means you are doing all you can to create a fun, safe, and sweet evening for all that come by. If you do not wish to participate, keep your porch light off, your shades drawn, and hopefully kids won’t come up and ring your doorbell.

One last and very important safety tip: Leave your pets inside. Cats need to be kept in for their own safety, and dogs might be spooked with strangers approaching.

Darla Horner Menking is an outdoor enthusiast and Herald correspondent. Contact her at

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