As you and your family bring out the Halloween decorations and prepare for parties and trick-or-treaters, take time to evaluate the liability exposures associated with having guests on your property.
Keep the following tips in mind to ensure Halloween is safe and happy for your family and guests.
AROUND YOUR HOUSE
- Make sure sidewalks, driveways and stairs are well-lit for visibility and clear of anything that may create a trip-and-fall hazard, especially if you anticipate having guests after dark for Halloween festivities.
- Even the friendliest of pets can become agitated or over-excited with an influx of Halloween visitors. Avoid any potential hazard by keeping your family pets away from your Halloween guests and visitors.
- As you and your family prepare the traditional jack-o-lanterns, use extreme caution if you decide to place a burning candle inside or around your home for added Halloween ambiance. Candles can be a fire hazard if not appropriately monitored. Consider using battery-operated candles inside your jack-o-lanterns as an alternative.
- If you hand out treats to your neighborhood trick-or-treaters, use only commercially-packaged treats.
- Parents will want to supervise younger children as they go door to door, but remember to secure your home before leaving to avoid any potential thefts.
FOR THE PARTY HOST
If you host a Halloween celebration ̶ at home or at another location ̶ it is essential to evaluate whether you have appropriate insurance coverage in place. Serving alcohol to guests opens you to exposure for host liquor liability, meaning you could be held legally liable for serving alcohol to a guest who leaves your party and causes injury to someone else or causes damage to their property. Consider the following tips to keep your exposures to a minimum, while ensuring your guests have fun and remain safe:
- If you are serving alcohol, ask that your guests designate a sober driver for the end of the evening.
- Consider hiring a professional bartender trained to recognize intoxication and limit alcohol consumption by partygoers, if necessary.
- Be a responsible host and limit your own alcohol intake so you’re better able to judge the sobriety of guests and can assist them in making alternative arrangements to get home safely.
- Stop serving alcohol toward the end of the evening and consider serving coffee and tea instead.
- If your party is being hosted away from your home, review your homeowner policy with your independent agent to ensure you have the necessary liability coverage as well as off-premises property damage protection.
- If your guests drink too much or seem tired, assist them in calling a cab or asking a non-drinking guest to take them home. Encourage all your guests to wear seatbelts on their return trip.