If you live in a wintry climate, you already know that snow and ice can sometimes appear as early as September and it’s not uncommon to have an icy or snowy Halloween night. We’ve witnessed many a kid approach a front porch expecting candy, only to end up lying flat on his Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle shell because he slipped on an icy step.
Trick or treating shouldn’t be hazardous to anyone’s health, except for the candy part, of course. Our heat trace cable gurus, many of whom have little witches and superheroes of their own, recommend you take these five easy precautions to make your home safe for little, and big, visitors this Halloween:
1. Clear a Path
Except for maybe some haunting decorations, your porch, walkways, and lawn should be free of debris or anything kids might slip on or trip over. That includes wet leaves, ice, snow, bicycles, lawnmowers, etc. Put the toys and machinery away and sweep leaves, branches, and other debris off of walkways.
If you already have snow on the ground, get your shovel or snow blower and remove it from any areas where people will be walking. There could also be a slick layer of ice under the snow, especially in humid climates where the white stuff is wet and heavy. Get a head start by putting down some non-toxic, pet-safe snowmelt pellets during the day to melt that ice.
Even if the areas are dry after you shovel, pre-season paths and driveways with snowmelt, so no ice or snow has a chance to accumulate later in the evening. Sand and kitty litter also work well to provide traction, but be prepared for a big clean-up after everything clears.
2. Lay it Down
Putting down all-weather outdoor mats is another great way to ensure that your guests won’t succumb to hidden icy spots on your stairs, front porch, or other paths. These mats come in all shapes and sizes, from thin stair treads to 20’ by 60’ walkway coverings, have thick grips for added traction, and are generally made out of rubber, polyester, or microfiber.
Many mats also use heat tracing wire technology enclosed within the mat material to keep it warm. Snow and ice melt immediately, so there is no accumulation on the surface of the mat. Whether they’re heated or not, mats are highly effective for keeping everybody on a steady footing.
3. Light Up the Night
It’s not hard for a little one to trip over a step they don’t see, so it’s best to keep your house and yard well-lit. Turn on the front porch lights, keep some inside lights working, and set up some fun luminaries along the path up to the house.
If your front lawn is supposed to be a spooky graveyard, consider using electric candles, string lights, or a dozen glowing pumpkins or ghosts to provide additional illumination. Parents will be grateful you took the time to add these light sources to make the house more approachable for their children.
4. Look Out Below
Roof avalanches and falling icicles can be dangerous, even deadly, and need to be addressed before any of the littles arrive. You won’t have to worry about those nasty icicles if you have installed self-regulating heating cable on your roof. It will work through freezing temperatures to keep any moisture on the edge of your housetop from icing over.
If you don’t have heat cable yet, don’t fret. Our technicians at HeatCable.com can help you find the right roof heating wire for your needs. The website also contains several How-To videos to walk you through the process of installation.
Another way to keep snow from falling on unexpecting visitors is to install snow guards on your roof. These are relatively simple to set up, and they work by allowing snow to slide off in smaller, staggered pieces instead of all at once, avalanche-style. Again, this is one of those projects you might want to consider completing before Halloween night.
Of course, if the worst comes to worst and there’s a heavy amount of snow on the roof that has you worried, a good roof rake is a quick-fix option. Keep in mind that roof rakes tend to damage shingles and push heat cable out of place or damage it if you’re not careful. Pick a quality rake, preferably with wheels and a snow slide, to minimize any harm to your housetop.
5. Park the Car
Unless you absolutely have to go out, it’s a good idea to keep the car parked for the night. There will be loads of costumed kids running around, many with facemasks (on top of other facemasks – think COVID-19), so they’ll be hard-pressed to notice anything going on around them, even a moving vehicle. Chances are you won’t be able to see all of them, either.
If you must drive somewhere, try to time your coming and going when the bulk of trick-or-treaters aren’t out. Completely clear any accumulated snow and ice from all windows, as well as the hood and the trunk. Finally, keep a sharp eye on your mirrors as you back out of your driveway.
From all of us here at HeatCable.com, have a safe and happy Halloween!