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Originally published October 25, 2013 at 8:04 PM | Page modified October 30, 2013 at 5:34 PM

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HomeWork: Steps to prep your home for a safe Halloween

These simple precautions can keep All Hallows’ Eve from becoming truly terrifying, such as removing any hazardous obstacles in your yard or on the walkway that could be difficult to see in the dark.

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Q: My husband and I love to celebrate Halloween. What advice do you have for decorating safely?

A: Halloween is one of Americans’ favorite holidays, but the day — and especially the night — can be rife with potential dangers, ranging from pedestrian accidents to falls to burns.

But little ghosts and goblins walking dark neighborhoods is just one thing that should concern homeowners who love to celebrate the holiday with a joyously haunted house.

These simple precautions can keep All Hallows’ Eve from becoming truly terrifying.

Make sure to remove any hazardous obstacles in your yard or on the walkway that could be difficult to see in the dark.

Garden hoses, tools and lawn decorations should be safely out of the way. It’s not uncommon for small trick-or-treaters to wear baggy costumes, billowing skirts or trailing hems, or have masks that limit visibility, so they may be more susceptible to tripping or falling.

If possible, make sure your sidewalks and walkways are illuminated. Check all outside lights and replace any that are burned out. If the weather is bad and walkways or steps up to the house could be slippery, sprinkle sand or litter to make sure no one trips on the way to your door.

Keep highly flammable decorations such as cornstalks and crepe paper away from flames, light bulbs and heaters.

Consider using battery-powered candles for your carved pumpkins. If you do use real candles, make sure to keep them away from the areas where trick-or-treaters will be walking or standing.

Costumes, wigs and beards should be flame-resistant or flame-retardant, but many families recycle costumes and the retardant could have been rained out or compromised by washing. In addition, handmade costumes might be made from fabrics like nylon or polyester, both of which can easily ignite.

When passing out treats, remember that homemade treats are likely to be discarded due to safety concerns, so it’s best to offer prepackaged goodies.

Since Halloween in the Northwest can bring unpredictable and blustery weather, be sure to secure all Halloween decorations so there is no danger of them blowing loose in a strong wind and injuring someone

If you have your home lit up and welcoming to visiting spirits, stay home, especially during peak trick-or-treating time. You can keep a watch on your property, and also make sure your guests and visitors are safe.

If you need to leave, turn out all your lights and decorations to signal that you are no longer passing out goodies and your participation has ended for the evening.

HomeWork is the weekly column by the Master Builders Association of King and Snohomish Counties’ Remodelers Council about home care, repair and improvements. If you have questions about home improvement, send them to


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