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Take 5 minutes to keep trick-or-treaters safe from slip and falls

With Halloween only a couple of days away, take a moment to inspect the walkway leading up to your home or business and make sure it's safe for trick-or-treaters. The last thing anyone wants is a painful or serious slip-and-fall accident to cast a pall on a happy holiday, and a few moments is all you should need to keep kids safe.

Despite the persistent jokes about them, slip-and-fall accidents can be serious and even deadly. According to the nonprofit National Safety Council, an average of 8.9 million people are injured seriously enough in slips, trips and falls every year that they need emergency-room treatment. Sadly, as many as 25,000 people die annually from these accidents.

While the issue is serious year-round, one insurer recently issued a Slip, Trip and Fall Prevention Guide to raise awareness as we start to get wet leaves on sidewalks and, eventually, snow and ice. Homeowners, retailers, municipalities and employers who fail to take reasonable steps to keep their premises safe for visitors can be held financially liable for injuries, and it's in everyone's best interest to prevent them.

"Just five minutes of time or a five dollar safety investment can save dozens of hours, thousands of dollars in the long run, and possibly someone's life," says a spokesperson for the insurer.

If you're expecting little ghouls and goblins at your home or business on Thursday, be sure your premises are safe:

  • Inspect your sidewalk, steps or stoop, and other property features for any slip or trip hazards. If you don't have time for repairs, be sure to mark them clearly so kids can avoid them.
  • Keep in mind that some Halloween costumes restrict vision and maneuverability, and that little kids don't always watch their step.
  • Make sure your Halloween decorations don't create a hazard -- make sure the likely pathways to your door are unobstructed and well lit.
  • If it could rain, sleet or snow on Halloween night, be sure you have the necessary items on hand to keep your sidewalk safe, such as a shovel, ice melt, and a gravelly substance to increase the friction on your walkways.

A spooky Halloween can be delightful, but one that ends with a child injured by a negligent property owner is not. Keep your little visitors safe and enjoy the holiday.

Source: Occupational Health & Safety magazine, "PHLY Offers Prevention Advice During Safe Steps Week," Oct. 24, 2013

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