Pumpkins, perils & more: Have a fun, safe Halloween


halloween pumpkins in front of a scary house

It’s the season of the pumpkin! Everyone seems to love pumpkin flavored foods, and there may be a reason for that. Psychologist think that the smell  of pumpkin spice produces a nostalgic feeling that brings us right back to Grandma’s house.

But have we gone too far? Eater magazine designates 65 Pumpkin Spice Foods That Have No Business Being Pumpkin Spiced. It’s pretty subjective – some people just can’t get enough.

Apparently, animals of all species have caught the human pumpkin craze, too – here’s how zoos around the world are celebrating Halloween with pumpkins for their residents.

Some people prefer to carve pumpkins rather than to eat them. Want to carve some pumpkins that will be the envy and fright of the neighborhood? Here are a few ideas for extreme Halloween pumpkins from Tom Narvone of  ExtremePumpkins.com. One of our other favorite pro carvers is Ray Villafane – you can see a few samples of his work and get a few tips in the clips below.

Remember to carve safely – use kits or patterns to make things easier and make carving an adult activity. We think the scariest place to be on Halloween is the emergency room.

Here are some other Halloween safety tips:

Home Safety

  • When decorating, avoid candles – use LED lights and battery-powered lights instead.
  • Take care not to overload electrical circuits with lights.
  • Paper and dried plant decorations can easily ignite. Keep them away from flames, lights, and electrical cords.
  • Keep porches and walkways well lit and free of debris and clutter that might be tripping hazards; Put reflective tape on your steps and along your walkway.
  • Park your car in a garage, if possible. Mischief makers may egg your house or car.
  • Lock up bicycles, gas grills and other outdoor valuables.

Kid Safety

  • Consider parties and visits to charity based Haunted Houses as an alternative to Trick or Treating
  • Equip kids with flashlights. Add day-glo or light-reflective tape to their costumes.
  • Make sure costumes are fire-safe and flame-resistant.
  • Ensure costumes and masks don’t impair vision or present a tripping hazard.
  • Make sure kids are dressed warmly and have comfortable, non-slip footwear.
  • Costume accessories and props should be short , pliable, and soft – no hard, long, pointy, or sharp objects
  • Inspect all candy before kids eat it. Be alert for choking hazards and watch for anything that is loose or unwrapped.
  • Don’t let kids walk while eating candy on a stick is very dangerous if they trip.
  • Don’t let kids eat homemade treats unless made by someone you know very well
  • Stick to familiar neighborhoods and familiar houses
  • Kids shouldn’t enter any homes unless they know the neighbors well
  • Kids without adults should keep in groups
  • Walk on sidewalks. Complete one side of the street, cross carefully, and complete the other side.
  • Use cross walks and crossing lights whenever possible.

Pet safety

  • Don’t forget about your pets – they could be upset by the unusual activity and may be skittish. Keep them inside and away from the door so they don’t frighten or nip at your guests.
  • Be careful not to let your pets eat candy, which can be toxic to them.
  • More: Halloween Perils For Pets … and People, Too

Not to be too spooky, but how much is your body worth?


Happy Halloween! We couldn’t think of a more appropriate and ghoulish topic for the day than finding out what your body is worth. The excellent infographic below gives you a good body-part-by-body-part snapshot of your market value. (Click for larger). Or fill out a brief questionnaire for a more personalized version of your body’s worth in dollars and cents.

If you are feeling really macabre, you may want to visit the The Death Clock, which bills itself as “the Internet’s friendly reminder that life is slipping away… second by second.” Enter your date of birth, sex, BMI and smoking status. You can choose to your results on a scale ranging from “sadistic” to “optimistic” – or just plain “normal.” If things look really dire, think about your life insurance coverage and update your beneficiaries.  Oh — and we really can’t think of a better way to celebrate the day and ensure your longevity than to sign up as an organ donor.

body-value

The scariest place to be on Halloween?


Halloween background

That’s an easy one: “Nothing is scarier than a trip to the emergency room,” said Mark Cichon, DO, chair, Department of Emergency Medicine, Loyola University Health System. “In a season devoted to frights, it is our goal to keep everyone safe.”

Pumpkin carving injuries, trips & falls and choking injuries are all among some of the most common Halloween-related injuries that could make for a scary unplanned ER visit. Dr. Cichon offers his excellent tips for a safe Halloween. Here are some of our safety tips:

Home Safety

  • When decorating, avoid candles – use LED lights and battery-powered lights instead.
  • Take care not to overload electrical circuits with lights.
  • Paper and dried plant decorations can easily ignite. Keep them away from flames, lights, and electrical cords.
  • Keep porches and walkways well lit and free of debris and clutter that might be tripping hazards; Put reflective tape on your steps and along your walkway.
  • Park your car in a garage, if possible. Mischief makers may egg your house or car.
  • Lock up bicycles, gas grills and other outdoor valuables.

Kid Safety

  • Consider parties and visits to charity based Haunted Houses as an alternative to Trick or Treating
  • Equip kids with flashlights. Add day-glo or light-reflective tape to their costumes.
  • Make sure costumes are fire-safe and flame-resistant.
  • Ensure costumes and masks don’t impair vision or present a tripping hazard.
  • Make sure kids are dressed warmly and have comfortable, non-slip footwear.
  • Costume accessories and props should be short , pliable, and soft – no hard, long, pointy, or sharp objects
  • Inspect all candy before kids eat it. Be alert for choking hazards and watch for anything that is loose or unwrapped.
  • Don’t let kids walk while eating candy on a stick – very dangerous if they trip.
  • Don’t let kids eat homemade treats unless made by someone you know very well
  • Stick to familiar neighborhoods and familiar houses
  • Kids shouldn’t enter any homes unless they know the neighbors well
  • Kids without adults should keep in groups
  • Walk on sidewalks. Complete one side of the street, cross carefully, and complete the other side.
  • Use cross walks and crossing lights whenever possible.

Pet safety

  • Don’t forget about your pets – they could be upset by the unusual activity and may be skittish. Keep them inside and away from the door so they don’t frighten or nip at your guests.
  • Be careful not to let your pets eat candy, which can be toxic to them.
  • More: Halloween Perils For Pets … and People, Too

Other issues

Call your agent
If you should suffer any damage to your property or have any accidents during Halloween weekend, file a claim as soon as possible to get the claim process in motion. Be ready with the details of where and when the event occurred, along with the names and addresses of any injured parties or witnesses to the event. If there is damage to your property, report it to the police, take photos, and record the details so you won’t forget them later.

Halloween: A witches’ brew of liability issues for homeowners


Happy Halloween, folks! Looking for a last minute costume idea? Check out these 9 insurance-related Halloween costumes. While those might be fine for adults, we hope you can be a little more imaginative with your kids.
We’re recycling some Halloween safety advice from one of our prior posts:
Any injuries that occur on your property can be considered your liability – whether it’s a little Cinderella who trips on her gown or a vandal who breaks his leg while egging your house. If party-goers drink too much alcohol while at your house, you may be held liable for any injuries that occur when they drive home. And if your teen’s Halloween “pranks” result in any property damage, you might have parental liability for the cost of that damage, depending on your state law. Other risks you may encounter include vandalism to your home or your auto and home fires triggered by candles and decorations or overloaded electrical outlets.
Keeping kids safe:

  • Equip kids with flashlights. Add day-glo or illuminating trim on their costumes.
    Make sure costumes are fire-safe and flame-resistant.
  • Ensure costumes don’t impair vision or present a tripping hazard.
  • Masks can limit visibility – colorful face paints are a cute, creative, and safer alternative.
  • Make sure kids are dressed warmly enough and have comfortable, non-slip footwear.
  • Costume accessories and props should be short , pliable, and soft – no hard, long, pointy, or sharp objects
  • Inspect all candy before kids eat it. Be alert for choking hazards and watch for anything that is loose or unwrapped.
  • Don’t let kids walk while eating candy on a stick – very dangerous if they trip.
  • Don’t let kids eat homemade treats unless they were made by someone you know very well
  • Stick to familiar neighborhoods and familiar houses
  • Kids shouldn’t enter any homes unless they know the neighbors well
  • Kids without adults should keep in groups
  • Walk on sidewalks.
  • Complete one side of the street, cross carefully, and complete the other side.
  • Use cross walks and crossing lights whenever possible.
  • Drive with great caution over the weekend, particularly after dark – excited little goblins may dart out from anywhere.

Other safety matters

  • When decorating, avoid candles – use LED lights and battery-powered lights instead.
  • Take care not to overload electrical circuits with lights.
  • Paper and dried plant decorations can easily ignite. Keep them away from flames, lights, and electrical cords.
  • Keep porches and walkways well lit and free of debris and clutter that might be tripping hazards; Put reflective tape on your steps and along your walkway.
  • Don’t forget about your pets – they could be upset by the unusual activity and may be skittish. Keep them inside and away from the door so they don’t frighten or nip at your guests.
  • Be careful not to let your pets eat candy, which can be toxic to them.
  • Park your car in a garage, if possible. Mischief makers may egg your house or car.
  • Lock up bicycles, gas grills and other outdoor valuables.

Halloween vandalism can range from “mild” pranks to more serious and willful property damage. A well-lit house and motion-activated lights may help to protect your property. If you have a garage, keep you car locked up. If you don’t, you might want to check your car before bed or very early in the morning – that way, if your car has experienced any “mischief” such as a dousing of shaving cream, silly string, eggs, or other food matter, you may be able to hose it away before the sun bakes it in. Some of these substances can cause scratches or dents; others can be corrosive to your paint. Pressurized water from your hose is your best clean-up ally.
Call your agent
If you should suffer any damage to your property or have any accidents during Halloween weekend, file a claim as soon as possible to get the claim process in motion. Be ready with the details of where and when the event occurred, along with the names and addresses of any injured parties or witnesses to the event. If there is damage to your property, report it to the police, take photos, and record the details so you won’t forget them later.

Tricks, Not Treats: Winter Storms and Power Outages


The East coast had a surprise snow storm that has derailed Halloween plans from Maryland to Maine. Many cities and towns need time to clean up downed trees, limbs, and power lines before it is safe for kids ghosts and goblins to go house to house. Plus, power restoration is still a work in progress for any communities.

This is just a teaser of events yet to come. The Insurance Information Institute has provided a breakdown of Winter Storm Facts. When adjusted for inflation, Winter Storms have caused about $26 billion in insured catastrophe losses since 1991, resulting more than $1 billion a year in damage on average. Last year, winter storm losses totaled $2.6 billion, the highest it’s been since 2003.

In this unprecedented October storm almost a million households were left without power. The FDA site has tips for keeping food safe during and after power outages. Refrigerated foods should be fine if the door remains shut and the power was out for no less than 4 hours, but for many households in the Northeast this was not the case. Follow their safety tips to prevent illness after the storm.

If your home or auto suffered damage from falling tree limbs, call your insurance agent.

Here’s a brief video on the topic:

By most accounts winter hasn’t even started yet – the winter season doesn’t even officially start until December 22nd and already the Northeast is getting an early taste of it. If you have questions about your insurance coverage and whether you are adequately protected against storm-related loss, talk to your insurance agent.