Whether you send your offspring out on Halloween (October 31), or walk them around trick-or-treating, you are bound to see at least one home “decorated” to scare the pants off a 12-year-old.
In fact, some homes may be so transformed, from merely suburban to truly eerie, that even grownups are a little nervous. Is that shadow alongside the garage a paper ghost, or a lurker? Is the screaming (growling, caterwauling) coming from inside the house human, canine, or feline, or is it just a really good Halloween soundtrack?
Out of the 20 or 30 homes visited on Halloween night, 99 percent are the work of homeowners who like to put a little scare into others. Figures suggest that most Americans spend about $79 on decorations. One, perhaps even two, may go out on a limb, literally, spending several hundred dollars and hanging paper goblins, ghosts and skeletons from every available tree or roof fascia. This year, experts suggest we will shell out almost $7 billion for the privilege of making little people wet their pants. But it’s all in good fun.
Or is it? Especially when some individuals take it too far, not realizing that scaring people is dangerous! And once in a blue moon, the scare is real.
For example, on October 16 – two weeks shy of Fright Night – a woman’s body was found attached to a chain link fence in a suburban yard in Chillicothe, Ohio.
At first, passersby took it for a Halloween setup. Finally, one man walking his dog noticed the very real looking blood and called it in. The man didn’t have a heart attack as a result, but some people would, or at least a minor breakdown, either of which would be justification for a lawsuit.
How does one not notice a dead body on one’s fence?
Equally as important, children (and adults) will be looking for scares, and candy. They won’t be looking for that newly washed car mat someone left on the lawn. The one that has turned into a slip-n-slide thanks to icy rain. Nor will they register the slightly intoxicated driver pulling out from the curb before turning the car lights on.
As any law enforcement officer knows, when Halloween falls on a Saturday, it becomes the second most lethal holiday of the year. This is because it combines drinking, driving, and streets full of children in costumes and masks that may obscure their side vision.
Homeowners can do their part to limit Halloween misfortunes. The first step is lighting, lots of lighting, even if it shows your goblins and ghosts up as merely paper. Spotlights and walkway lights can help identify the path trick-or-treaters (and their parents) should take.
The second step is clearing anything from your driveway, lawn, sidewalk, and porch that might cause a small, masked bandit to trip or fall. Lastly, insure that none of the designated walkways from street to door are icy or snowy. Encourage neighbors to leave a yard light on as well, even if they don’t plan to participate in handing out treats.