How Not to Get Spooked this Halloween!

With the economic climate being what it is, Halloween Week 2013 is likely to encourage as much creativity in theft as it does in costume design. However, it is not just theft that one needs to be aware of. Accidental damage, and through vandalism, will – as ever – mean that some people’s Halloweens are SERIOUSLY frightful.

With the Fire Brigade Union announcing firefighters’ strikes on Friday 1st and Monday 4th November, home and business owners need be all the more alert and careful in mind of fire damage. And with the weather as it has been, water damage and falling tree damage is also affecting home owners dramatically.

Both homeowners and business owners should protect their property as best as possible ahead of the festivities. It might be kids looking for bonfire materials on commercial premises, or causing havoc to homes when no treats are available – the TRICK is to be prepared. Here are some top tips from the team at Brownhill Insurance Group:

Home Owners

Never keep keys, handbags or wallets near to the front or back door, or near to any window. “One thief used a hook through a client’s cat flap to grab the house keys and then let themselves in” laments Megan Thompson, one of Brownhills High Value Home Client Managers. Whether you are out and about on Bonfire night (and therefore not home to protect your property) or if you are opening up your home to trick or treaters, be mindful of opportunists.

If you are welcoming trick or treaters, remember that young people will be coming on to your property:

•Make sure automatic security lighting is working well.
•Remove any hazardous material that might be blocking your driveway and could cause harm if accidentally tripped over.
•Rope off any valuable plants and ensure that any valuable garden statuary is made secure and is not hazardous.
•If you are getting creative with pumpkins or lanterns with candles in them, make sure that they are far enough out of the way so that costumes won’t accidentally be set on fire.
•In good old fashioned “Scout” style… be prepared! Choose what treasures you are happy to part with and perhaps choose a selection of both healthy and delicious treats.
•If your door has a spy hole, look through it before answering the door. If not, see if there might be a way of taking a peek through a window near to the front door. If you are intimidated by the look of any visitors, do not answer the door. In extreme cases, call the Police.
•If you will not be at home, make sure that all doors and windows are locked and that no valuables are on show through windows. Close curtains. If possible, make posters to alert trick or treaters that you do not welcome visitors, but don’t advertise that you are not at home as this may encourage opportunistic thieves.
Your local constabulary should offer additional, local advice and resources. Suffolk Police, for example, provide a useful online guide to trick-treating and protecting your home as well as posters on their website that business and home-owners can download to deter (or welcome) trick-or-treaters. Google your local constabulary to see if there are any posters bespoke to your area.

Businesses

The last thing a business needs in this climate is to lose out through time wasted making a claim, or through un-insured loss of profits as a result of stolen or damaged property. Warehouses, construction sites, yards and unoccupied premises are particularly vulnerable.

•Be doubly sure you have locked up all premises at night and when un-patrolled.
•Nail, down or somehow make secure, any building materials, tyres and pallets that need to be left outdoors, even if under cover.
•Do not leave oil supplies lying around.
•Make sure automatic security lighting and alarm systems are working well.
•If possible, have your property guarded during this week.
Speak to one of Brownhill Insurance Group’s Business Team members for advice on risk management, additional security measures, or specialist companies that offer expertise in your area of business. Make sure that you have appropriate insurance cover in place though a reliable broker, who will offer an efficient service should you need to make a claim, such as Brownhill Insurance Group.

Parents

Ideally, all children trick or treating should be accompanied by an adult.

•Be visible, carry a torch and stay in well-lit areas.
•Be careful not to frighten elderly people.
•Be wary of taking food from strangers.

If your children will be trick-or-treating without you (they should be of an age that this is appropriate):

•Plan a trick or treat route with them.
•Instruct them not to talk to strangers in the street and not to knock on doors where there is a sign saying ‘No Trick or Treat Here’. You may even like to suggest that they only visit houses where you know the residents.

FIRST AID

•Familiarise yourself, preferably in advance of festivities, with first aid measures to take if your child is hurt. See the British Red Cross’s website for guidance for prevention and treatment.
•If you are preparing costumes and taking your children out to trick or treat or see fireworks, think about the clothes that they are wearing (can they easily trip over in their costume)
•Be careful carving pumpkins with sharp knives. Sweets can be a common cause for choking. See the British Red Cross’s website for guidance for prevention and treatment.

Road Safety & Reporting Crime

If you are on the roads, look out for excited little ghosts, ghouls and grim reapers crossing the road.

Be alert to youths congregating. Do not attempt to tackle a large group of people committing a crime on your own. Call the police.

Whilst bearing all of these security measures in mind, the most important advice that Brownhill Insurance Group offer is… HAVE FUN!!!… and tweet Brownhill Insurance Group your pumpkin pictures!