Halloween Safety and Tips

Halloween is a hauntingly exciting time of year where families and friends dress up in costumes to celebrate the occasion. Though Halloween can be a fun night, it can also be dangerous. For kids and teenagers, trick-or-treating is the highlight of Halloween. For others, throwing costume parties and celebrating with friends are more their vibe. Subsequently, Halloween can be one of the most dangerous nights of the year. Not only are there more drunk drivers on the road, upwards of 40 million children and families take to the streets to go trick-or-treating.

Enjoy a safe and spooky Halloween by following these tips:

A woman dressed in a vampire costume

Costumes

Costumes are a great way to celebrate Halloween and unleash your inner undead or supernatural self. However, there are plenty of safety precautions that should be considered before dawning your cape or space helmet.

  1. Plan costumes that are bright or reflective. It’s important to make sure that children are visible at night, especially while trick-or-treating in dimly lit areas. Give your child a flashlight to carry to light their way and make them easy to spot in the dark. Consider adding a reflective strip to their costume to add an extra layer of visibility.
  2. Make sure that shoes fit well and that costumes are short enough to prevent a tripping hazard.
  3. Look for flame resistant materials. Your child should always be supervised by an adult when lighting jack-o-lanterns. Additionally, make sure they’re wearing a costume made of flame-resistant materials in case they ever come into contact with one.
  4. Consider non-toxic makeup. Makeup can often be the finishing touch for any costume. If they are going to dawn face painting or makeup, make sure it’s non-toxic and safe for skin. Also, do a test patch on a small patch of skin to watch for any allergic reactions.
  5. Hats and masks should fit properly to prevent them from slipping downwards and obscuring vision.
  6. Avoid any sharp objects such as swords, canes, sticks, etc. These objects could injure your child or another person.
  7. Do not use cosmetic contact lenses without a proper eye examination or proper understanding of safe usage. Cosmetic contact lenses could potentially cause damage to your child’s eyes or eyesight. Improper use and hygiene could potentially lead to eye infections or physical damage to the eyes.
A group of vibrant pumpkins at a pumpkin patch

Pumpkins

Symbolically, pumpkins represent rebirth, fertility, and the harvest of crops. For those who go trick-or-treating, a glowing jack-o-lantern is a symbol that those who live there want a visit. Pumpkins are the most prominent symbol of Halloween and carving one can be fun for the entire family.

  1. Never allow small children to carve pumpkins while unsupervised. Often times, pumpkin carving tools have sharp edges that could easily lead to injuries. Children should always be supervised while carving pumpkins, especially when lighting them.
  2. Consider using a battery powered candle to flashlight to light your pumpkin.
  3. Do not place candlelit pumpkins near flammable objects or near visitors.

At Home

  1. Remove any tripping hazards. Additionally, remove heavy objects which could get pushed over and injure a visitor.
  2. Check outdoor lights and make sure that walkways are well lit and visible.
  3. Sweep wet leaves and remove foliage that visitors may slip on.
  4. Restrain pets and keep them in an area where they cannot escape. Some pets are extremely anxious, so consider having a friend or family member stay with them during trick-or-treating hours.

Trick-or-Treating

  1. Always accompany small children when they’re trick-or-tricking.
  2. Never go into a home or vehicle to receive candy.
  3. Make sure your children understand what to do in emergency situations. Rehearse calling 911 or other emergency contacts in case anything happens.
  4. Teach your children how to reduce pedestrian injuries. Always look both ways before crossing the street and make sure they wait for an adult before crossing. Add an extra layer of protection by making sure your child is visible and is carrying a flashlight.

Preventing Catalytic Converter Theft

The nation has seen the numbers of catalytic converter theft skyrocket within the past 12 months. From July 1, 2020 to June 30, 2021, claims filed for catalytic converter theft grew by nearly 300% nationwide as compared to the year prior. The National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB) reports that catalytic converter thefts have seen a significant increase since the beginning of the global pandemic, March of 2020. The trend is climbing in 2021, leaving both individual car owners, fleet owners, and car dealerships on their toes.

In just moments, thieves stole 20 catalytic converters from a Mitsubishi dealership in La Porte, Texas. Countless of homeowners claimed that catalytic converters were stolen from right in front of their homes across the nation. Often times, the cars were in plain view of their front doors and windows, or even parking in their own driveways.

Why are Catalytic Converters Being Stolen at an Alarming Rate?

The clearest answer is due to the amount of precious metals used in the manufacturing of catalytic converters. They contain metals like platinum, palladium and rhodium. As of writing this article, platinum is worth $977.00 per ounce. That’s right, per ounce. Palladium is worth $2,428.00 per ounce, and rhodium goes for $16,250.00 per ounce. So which cars have the most catalytic converters stolen? Hybrids, like the Toyota Prius, are most often targeted because their converters contain the largest amount of precious metals. Additionally, they use less combustion meaning their converters retain those precious metals for a longer period of time. Full-size SUVs and trucks are also frequent targets because of the size of their converters and the fact that they’re easier to crawl under without the use of jacks.

Because of how expensive catalytic converters are, thieves sell them to scrap yards for several hundred dollars per piece. On the other hand, victims of converter thefts are left paying a hefty fee to replace them for these same reasons. What makes things worse is that in some states their vehicles aren’t street legal without a catalytic converter in place.

Symptoms of Catalytic Converter Theft

You may not be able to tell your cat was stolen just by looking at your car without jacking it up. However, you’ll know as soon as you start the engine. When the converter is missing, your car will make a loud roaring sound that gets louder as you press the gas pedal. Since the exhaust isn’t working properly, the vehicle also drives rougher than usual, often sputtering and spitting as you change speed. Visibly, you’ll notice a large gap in your exhaust and other signs of it being cut away.

Preventing Catalytic Converter Theft

Always park your vehicle in a well-lit area or in your personal garage, if possible. Thieves tend to prey on easier opportunities and will often pass-by high-risk targets. Park close to a building entrance or by a well-populated area since there is usually an increase in foot traffic. Calibrate your car’s security system so that vibrations will trigger an alarm.

If you live in an HOA or an apartment complex, urge your property manager to hire private security. Most of the time, the simple presence of a security guard is enough to deter crime and theft. You can also rally your neighbors to pitch in for private security services to patrol your neighborhood.

Many car owners are taking the steps to etch or engrave their vehicle’s VIN numbers onto their converters. In addition to this, many companies, like Cat Shield, Cat Security, and Cat Clamp, offer catalytic converter protection plates. The plates are often made of sturdy material and can be installed by a local mechanic in a short amount of time. This small step can help save drivers a ton of money down the road.

How to Prepare for Extreme Heat

Summer is quickly approaching and with that, the heat. Residents of California are more than familiar with the yearly heat and the risks that comes with it. California experienced multiple heat waves, along with wildfires, all throughout the hotter months of the year 2020. It’s important to take steps to stay safe during hot weather. Continue reading for tips on how to prepare for eminent heatwaves this year.

What are heat waves?

A heat wave is a period of unusually high temperatures for a region. They typically last for 2-3days though record show they often last longer. Heat waves usually happen when there is high pressure in the atmosphere that prevents ground air from rising. The sinking air acts likes a cap which traps hot ground air in place. Young children, the elderly, individuals with illnesses, and pets are especially vulnerable to high heat.

Heat-related deaths rank in as the top weather-related killer. More than lightning, tornados, and hurricanes combined. It’s estimated that more than 1,300 extreme heat-related deaths occur every year. 90% of death occur during the summer months (May through September) according to the CDC. Be aware of the heat index for the dangers of combined heat and humidity.

Prepare For and Prevent Heat Wave Danger

  1. Make sure the air conditioning is installed and functional, check A/C ducts for proper insulation. Also check for any cracks or spaces in your home’s insulation for potential leaks. Upgrade weather strips around windows and doors to further seal off the house from heat.
  2. Install awning, blinds, or drapes. Keep them closed to keep sunlight and heat out. Look into installing black-out curtains as they will keep out the most amount of light compared to other drapes.
  3. Update your first-aid kit and make sure it contains all the necessary items to deal with hot weather. Don’t forget to prepare or acquire an emergency disaster kit in case the power goes out.
  4. Prepare for power outages and create a plan for yourself or your family in the event of power outages. Install a spare generator to power the A/C in the event of a power outage. Plan where to escape too if the interior of your house becomes too hot. Public areas like the library, swimming pools, etc. are excellent places to escape to.
  5. Drink plenty of water, despite your activity level or whether or not you feel thirsty. You can lose a lot of fluids by sweating alone and it’s important to replace whatever fluids you lose throughout the day.
  6. Never leave children or pets alone in the car. Besides obvious safety reasons, a car and get exponentially hot in a relatively short amount of time. With that being said, don’t leave your children or pets outside during a heatwave. Bring in all members of the family to cool off during the summer heat.
  7. Stay indoors during the hottest part of the day which is usually from 10:00AM to 4:00PM. Limit the time spent outside and avoid strenuous activity if you do find yourself outside for any reason. If you are outdoors, make sure to avoid direct sunlight and cool off in the shade as much as possible.
  8. Avoid consuming diuretics and other beverages that may dehydrate you. This includes alcohol, sugary drinks, soda, coffee, energy drinks, or other caffeinated drinks.
  9. Wear loose-fitting, light, air clothing as tight clothing traps heat against your body.
  10. If you are starting to feel over-heated, cool off with a wet cloth or sponge. Make sure to carry a cold bottle of water to either pour or spritz water on yourself to avoid overheating.

Pet Safety

Don’t let your pet’s health go unnoticed during heat waves and the hotter months of the year. Make sure your pets stay cool inside and out by leaving out a bowl of water and providing ample shade. There are plenty of jackets designed to keep your pets cool by way of evaporation. Limit walks and exercise on hot days and be especially weary of hot pavements that could burn the pads of your pets’ feet.

Watch for Heatstroke

Watch for signs of heatstroke like heavy panting, glazed eyes, a rapid heartbeat, labored breathing, lethargy, fever, dizziness or lack of coordination, excessive salivating, vomiting, seizures, and a deep colored tongue and gums. Pets are especially at risk of heat stroke if they are old, overweight, not conditioned for prolonged exercise, have short muzzles, or have heart or respiratory disease. Follow guidelines set by the Humane Society for further information about avoiding heat stroke in pets.

Important Apartment Safety Checklist

You’re settling into your new apartment and finally unpacked the last moving box. After organizing and putting everything away, you’re probably surveying your new place and wondering if your belongings are safe. Here is an apartment safety checklist to ensure that you and your belongings are safe from theft and robbery.

Reinforce Sliding Doors

There are a few things you can do to secure your sliding glass door, which most apartments now feature. If you happen to live on the first floor of an apartment complex you’d want to pay extra attention to your doors and windows. First and foremost, keep the blinds closed when you’re not at home. You wouldn’t want anyone to get a good look inside your apartment to scope out any targets inside. A few other steps include:

  • Add an alarm sensor. Door sensors are a feature of home safety systems and will alert you whenever it opens.
  • Add window film. Most sliding doors are made of glass and can easily be smashed in the event of a robbery. Installing window film will prevent the glass from completely shattering when broken.
  • Add a rod or bar on the tracks. This will prevent the door from opening, whether by a little or not at all. This simple addition will save you a load of stress when you’re away.
  • Get a deadbolt lock. It’s a good idea to install extra locks on your door so that it’s harder for thieves to open.
  • Install a security camera.

Secure Your Windows

Although it’s pretty straightforward, don’t leave your windows open when you’re not in the area. First floor windows are one of the most common points of entry during a robbery.

  • Locks: Most windows already come with window locks, but you can beef up your security by adding more. Look into different window locks and barricades for added protection.
  • Window alarms. Similar to door alarms, window alarms will also notify you when the window is opened, even by a bit. Unfortunately, neighbors sometimes ignore the sound of breaking glass. Glass break sensors, in a similar fashion, will alert you if the window is shattered.
  • Prickly plants. Chances are that you won’t have too much control over the vegetation outside of your rental unit. But this doesn’t meant you’re not able to have them just inside. Having prickly plants and shrubs by your window can help deter robberies. A lot of robbers are opportunists and probably won’t go through the trouble of risking injury for a quick snatch and grab.

Meet Your Neighbors

Having a friend nearby goes a long way when it comes to keeping communities safe and secure. It’s always helpful having extra pairs of eyes to keep the lookout or to deter robberies before they happen. It also makes it much easier to discuss the various on-goings of the neighborhood and spread the word if anything happens. When moving into a new apartment building or condo, leave a note or letter on their door letting them know who you are.

Invest in a Safe to Store Your Valuables

Get creative with hiding places for your valuables such as passports, jewelry, cash, and other items. There are many different types and sizes of safes. Pick which one is right for you and make the investment.

Be Home Even if You’re Not

Many robberies happen when tenants and homeowners are out of town for an extended period of time. Making it look like you’re home, even when you’re not, is a clever way to deter robberies from happening when you’re not around. Installing times and setting your lights to specific times throughout the day will make it look like someone is home. Another clever, and really helpful, tool is to install a doorbell camera so that you can answer the door even when you’re not home. Setting the blinds to open and close automatically is also another way to trick would-be robbers from thinking that your place is vacant.

Get a Guard Dog

Not only are dogs man’s best friend, they also make excellent family guardians. Dogs have a natural inclination to protect not only their packs (their families) but also their territories. Always alert and aware of their surroundings, dogs will notify their owners of any strangers of intruders. Many dogs will also spring into action if anyone is foolish enough to break into their homes. Head over to our blog about guard dogs to read more, or read the following list.

  • Akita
  • German Shepherd
  • Rottweilers
  • Doberman Pinscher
  • Boxer
  • Great Dane
  • Bullmastiff
  • Great Pyrenees
  • Chow Chow
  • Chihuahua