Halloween Safety Tips for Trick or Treaters, Drivers and Homeowners
Halloween 2017 continued the year-over-year trend of delivering more tricks than treats for auto owners as a report for the days leading up to and after the holiday revealed an increase in auto claims, according to Mercury Insurance.
“Last year’s Halloween claims data is pretty spooky,” says Kevin Quinn, Vice President of Claims at Mercury Insurance. “We saw a big increase in broken windows and theft of personal property from vehicles.
“We also saw an increase in parked car collision claims compared to the previous year. And it’s pretty common for our insureds to report minor vandalism damage, such as dents and dings to their parked cars, or that their vehicles had been damaged by being keyed or egged.”
Halloween spending is anticipated to reach $9 billion in 2018, marking the second consecutive year of reaching this milestone, according to the National Retail Federation. That means there will be even more decorations greeting trick-o-treaters and it gives ghouls a wide assortment of items to steal for their own haunted house. “Halloween is a busy holiday period with lots of activity in neighborhoods – including an influx of strangers – so it’s not out of the ordinary for one of our customers to report a ‘pumpkined’ car or mummified home. The good news is that the right kind of insurance can help you recover from these costly pranks,” Quinn adds.
To promote a safe and happy holiday for all, here are some Halloween tips:
- Pick a costume for your child that fits. Select an outfit that doesn’t obscure their vision – watch out for masks that don’t fit properly or limit what they can see such as oncoming traffic, cracks in the sidewalk or children smaller than them.
- Select props that enhance a costume, but won’t hurt someone. Opt for plastic, dull and flexible props to complete an outfit. For example, sharp swords in the wrong hands can spoil a night of collecting candy.
- Make sure your group is seen. Add glow sticks to your group’s outfits and bring a flashlight with you so motorists can see you in the dark when crossing streets and as you walk past driveways.
- Watch where you cross the street. Use crosswalks, traffic signals and street corners when crossing roads. Don’t cross the street between parked cars, as this limits visibility and makes it difficult for motorists to see you. Remember to look left and right to check for cars before stepping off the curb.
- Don’t participate in distracted walking. Put smartphones and other electronic devices away and pay attention to drivers on the road. One social post could ruin your night, so save the photos and updates for when you get home.
- Children should always trick or treat with an adult. Little ones should be supervised by an adult.
- Young adults should discuss and share their route with parents and friends before leaving. If they are old enough to go out trick-or-treating on your own, young adults should talk to their parents and friends about the neighborhood streets they’ll be visiting. And, be advised to stick to the plan and agree on a time to return home.
- Pay attention when driving. Halloween brings a lot of people out for a night of trick-or-treating, so watch for them crossing the street or even darting out between parked cars. It’s fun to look at all the costumes and children enjoying the night, but stay on high alert while behind the wheel.
- Park in a garage or well-lit area when possible. Otherwise, consider installing motion detectors in your driveway to turn on lights when someone approaches. If you only have access to street parking, try to park near streetlamps. Lighted areas deter thieves, who like to break into cars under the cover of darkness.
- Avoid parking in deserted areas. Vandals are less likely to do their dirty work out in the open, so park in well-populated areas whenever possible. If you’re attending a Halloween party in an unfamiliar neighborhood, ask the host for recommendations on safe places to park. “Before you leave a vehicle parked in your garage, on a street or in a parking lot, remove all valuables from it, as this will help to deter thieves from wanting to break into your car,” Quinn adds.
- Activate your alarm. Car alarms are loud and draw people’s attention, so use them to deter criminals.
- Review your auto insurance policy. Talk to your local independent agent to see what auto coverage you have. “For example, comprehensive coverage would protect against acts of vandalism like rowdy teenagers egging your vehicle, while home or renters insurance would cover stolen items taken from a vehicle,” Quinn adds.
- Light your walkway. This can reduce the likelihood of vandalism to your home as well as increase visibility for costumed visitors who may have difficulty viewing the terrain.
- Keep pets indoors. Some dogs and cats can become easily spooked by strangers or kids disguised in costumes. Keep pets inside – or in a separate part of your home if you’re hosting a party – to keep them safe and prevent any ugly situations where a pet can bite or scratch a guest.
- Install surveillance cameras. Cameras can be installed to areas of the home that are more obstructed or away from the street and may help law enforcement identify the perpetrators. “Homeowners might want to install new technology that makes it look like you are home while at a Halloween celebration. Smart home lights and cameras operated by a mobile device can help you see what’s going on from anywhere,” Quinn adds.
- Set up a neighborhood watch. Talk to neighbors and come up with a schedule to watch your block. Assign times and map out potential trouble spots. Invite law enforcement to your meeting to get additional advice and determine when they might be patrolling your neighborhood.
Filing a Claim
- Call the police. Filing a report provides you with an official record of any incident and, hopefully, the police will be able to track down the offender. Don’t attempt to move or clean any of the damaged items until the police arrive to document the scene and retrieve necessary information.
- Take photos of the damage. Photos may act as additional evidence and provide a more permanent record of events.
- Contact your insurer. Report claims to your insurance company right away. Mercury customers can call the company toll-free 24 hours a day, seven days a week to report a claim at (800) 503-3724.