Keeping Your Home Safe From These Common Halloween ‘Tricks’
Pillowcases full of candy, creative costumes, parties - no wonder 1 in 4 Americans call Halloween ‘one of their favorite holidays’. But while you’re out collecting treats, your home could be falling victim to any number tricks, from the harmless to potentially damaging. Here are some of the most common risks to your home during Halloween and ideas on how to keep them from haunting you.
Toilet Papering (or TP-ing)
Toilet paper traces its origins back to 6th century China, and wasn’t common in Western civilization until the 1800s when Joseph Gayetty marketed ‘a medicated paper for the water closet’. The first evidence of toilet paper making the transition from powder room to pranking though occurred in 1961 in Nebraska’s Lincoln Evening Journal.
Today, most of us have experienced the dred of waking up to 2-ply hanging from our trees and eaves, but have you been cleaning up after this prank in the most efficient way? Consider following these steps:
- DO Act fast - Dry paper is your friend. If the paper gets wet, it’s going to be nearly impossible to collect and you may have to wait for it to dry out again.
- DO Work top to bottom - Begin by grabbing the paper from the highest point, like a roof or the top of the tree, and work your way down. There’s no sense in cleaning the same area twice once the paper starts falling.
- DO Go big for the little pieces - Once you’ve placed the larger remnants into the trash, use a leaf blower to quickly collect the smaller pieces still floating around your yard. It’s faster and you won’t be left with a shredded mess like when using a rake.
- DO NOT Use unsafe methods to clean - A ladder can be helpful to reach pieces of paper that hang over your roof, but leave the roof climbing to professionals. It’s also smart to avoid using any incindierary products to remove paper as well.
A bit less “fun prank” and more “I think this person doesn’t like me”, egging homes or cars is another common Halloween event.
- DO Act fast (again) - Like with toilet paper, you want to act quickly, but this time water is your friend. Eggs are easier to clean when they retain moisture, so don’t allow them to dry. Wipe egg with a damp towel to remove the easy bits. For more problematic areas, you can use a hose or even a power washer to remove stains, especially after they’ve dried. You’ll want to wet the area below the stain to help it wash right off your home.
- DO Test harsh cleaners first - If you’ve got some stubborn egg stains leftover, consider using cleaners like non-bleach detergents, all purpose cleaners or vinegar. Whatever you use, you’ll want to test it on a less visible section of what you’re looking to clean before using it throughout your cleaning project.
- DO NOT Use hot water (or make poached eggs!) - Avoid using hot water as this could actually cook the egg and make the problems worse, albeit more delicious.
Forking, which involves sticking little plastic forks into a yard, is generally pretty harmless (and if you’re wondering, no - not all that helpful to aerate your lawn). Many pranksters will up the ante by coating the top of the fork in vaseline, making it harder to remove from the ground. Honestly, who has the time to think these things up?
- DO Pick them up - Unfortunately, this prank ‘sticks out’ as a pretty straight forward remedy. You’re going to have to pull these forks out by hand. Wear thick, rough fabric gloves to minimize any aggravating scrapes from the plastic, and to minimize the impact of any vaseline or other substance.
- DO NOT Cut corners on clean up - We’ve seen it suggested that to remove forks quickly you could use a lawn mower. What’s worse than a hundred plastic forks in your yard? Thousands of shattered fork pieces, of course.
Smashed Pumpkins or Mailboxes
Now we’re entering the good old fashioned mean-spirited vandalism side of things. As good as Mellon Collie and Infinite Sadness remains, nobody really wants to deal with smashed up pumpkin goo all over the home. Likewise, a banged up mailbox can be a real headache, not to mention an added expense. Beyond just cleaning tips, here are a few things to keep in mind.
- DO Protect yourself from repeat offenders - Fall decorating can be fun and many of us take pride in making our homes look festive. So it can be upsetting to see hard work vandalized again and again. Video doorbells can be helpful in spotting these acts and reporting it to the police. And while it may seem helpful, or at least cathartic, to post the video on social media to enlist the support of neighbors, police recommend against it.
- DO Report crimes to the police or other authorities - Mailboxes are a common victim of Halloween shenanigans, from simple baseball bat bludgeoning to more sophisticated explosive routes, but one theme they all share - they are a federal offense. Crimes against mailboxes, and the mail inside, are actually investigated by United States Postal Inspectors and carry pretty heavy potential consequences. Nowadays, we get almost everything mailed to us, from prescriptions to birthday presents, so it makes sense to take these boxes, and their contents, seriously and report the crime.