Halloween Is No. 1 Day for Free Candy – and Property Crime

Alex Glenn is a staff writer for NerdWallet, a personal finance website. 

Make-believe monsters, witches and goblins vie for our attention each Halloween, but Fright Night is also the ideal time for real wrongdoers to wreak havoc undetected.

halloween

On average, crime-related insurance claims spike by 24% on Halloween, more than on any other day of the year, according to 2016 data from Travelers Insurance. This includes particularly sharp increases in theft, both inside and outside the home, and vandalism.

Property crime at a glance

Burglaries skyrocket

Among property crimes, home burglaries experience the largest increase on Halloween, says Angi Orbann, second vice president of personal insurance at Travelers. Insurance claims due to theft inside the home go up by a whopping 60%.

It’s tempting to assume no one would dare break in when there are so many witnesses walking the neighborhood, Orbann says. As a result, people often drop their guards just when they should be most vigilant.

Thieves don’t just strike at home

Most folks hit the streets in search of candy on Halloween, but prowling thieves have their eyes on more valuable goodies, such as a smartphone left in your car. Insurance claims for theft away from home spike by 21% on Halloween, proving your house isn’t the only hot spot for opportunistic criminals.

Property damage also a concern

All Hallows’ Eve is known for pranks, and the numbers suggest the reputation is well-earned. Claims due to vandalism and malicious mischief rise by 19% on Halloween. This is a fairly broad category of crime, Orbann says, ranging from relatively innocent home-egging to more purposely destructive acts, such as smashing car windows.  

How to secure your home and belongings

Turn lights on if you leave the house

People often turn out all their lights to notify trick-or-treaters that they’re not at home, Orbann says. Unfortunately, a dark house is also a green light for prospective burglars and vandals.

It might confuse candy-expectant kids, but Orbann recommends leaving some lights on when you’re away from home and even switching on the the TV. Also consider motion-detecting lights for your yard.

Keep your plans off social media

Leaving the house dark isn’t the only way you might accidentally attract burglars. Be mindful of other hints that your house is empty — such as announcing your evening plans on Facebook.

Make your car look empty

Most Halloween thefts that occur away from home involve belongings in a car, Orbann says. Avoid leaving electronic devices, wallets, sunglasses and other valuable items sitting on the seat or dashboard. She also recommends tucking away car accessories such as USB cords.

If you often leave your car in the driveway or on the street but own a garage, Halloween is a good time to park in it.

Review your insurance

Even if you can’t avoid Halloween property crime, you can make sure your home insurance will help you recover from it.

“We really encourage people to take a home inventory,” Orbann says. Having a ready list of all your belongings and what they’re worth can speed up the claims process, she adds.

If you’re turning your home into a haunted house and charging admission, you should also verify your coverage with your insurer. That might be considered a business activity, Orbann says, meaning your homeowners insurance wouldn’t cover property crimes that occur during the event.

And keep in mind that your home insurance doesn’t pay for vandalism to your car. Make sure you have comprehensive coverage on your auto policy, or the cost to replace the egg-eaten paint on your bumper might come out of your own pocket.

Study shows two-in-five Canadian parents may be overdressing their children in car seats

With cold weather comes bulky clothing, and while this may be a great way to keep kids warm in the winter, it can be dangerous when a child is strapped in a car seat. While the vast majority—95 per cent—of Canadian parents state that they are confident they know how to properly buckle a child in a car seat, many may actually be overdressing their children, according to new poll findings from Allstate Insurance Company of Canada.

carseat2

When asked what they thought was the best way to keep a child warm while in their car seat during the winter months, 41 per cent of parents with children at home said a snowsuit or a winter coat. But bulky clothes inhibit the harness from being properly tightened, in the event of a sudden stop, a child can be propelled forward suddenly, causing a bulky jacket or snowsuit to compress. When this happens, it results in slack in their restraints and can cause the child to be ejected from the car seat, which can result in serious injury or death.

“These poll findings suggest a large knowledge gap, and we want parents to understand that the key to protecting your child is to dress them appropriately for their car seat, not the weather outside,” says Jason Foroglou, Certified Car Seat Safety Technician and Agency Manager, Allstate Insurance Company of Canada. “Safety for Canadians is a priority for Allstate Canada, which is why we partnered with Safety 1st Canada— to help educate and spread awareness on this important issue.”

“We’re concerned to learn that so many Canadian parents feel winter jackets and snowsuits are the best attire to be worn, since they’re not the safest options for keeping kids secure while in their car seats,” says Mimi Brandspigel, senior product manager for car seats of Dorel Juvenile Canada, makers of Safety 1st products. “This kind of winter wear tends to be big and puffy, great for keeping kids warm—but not very effective at keeping them securely strapped into their car seats.”

Safety 1st recommends dressing children in warm, thin layers to allow the car seat straps to lay flat and snugly against a child’s body. Yet, while this is the recommended approach to better ensure car seat safety, only one-in-10 (10 per cent) parents feel that layers are the best way to keep a child warm in their car seat in the winter months.

Options for ensuring a child remains safe and comfortable while in a car seat include:

  • Outfitting a child in warm, thin layers, along with a hat, mitts and boots
  • Warming up the car before loading up the family
  • Placing a blanket over a car seat after the child is properly strapped in
  • Using a child’s coat as a blanket with their arms in the sleeves

Allstate Canada has prepared a blog article, video, and infographic to help Canadians identify the best way to keep their children safe and secure this winter.

For more details about car seat safety, visit Allstate Canada’s GOOD HANDS® blog at goodhandsadvice.ca.

About Allstate Insurance Company of Canada:
Allstate Insurance Company of Canada is one of the country’s leading producers and distributors of home and auto insurance products, including usage-based insurance, serving Canadians since 1953. The company strives to keep its customers in “Good Hands®” as well as its employees, and has been listed as a Best Employer in Canada for three years in a row. Allstate Canada is committed to making a positive difference in the communities in which it operates and has partnered with organizations such as Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD Canada), United Way, and Junior Achievement. To learn more about Allstate Canada, visit www.allstate.ca. For more safety tips and advice, visit goodhandsadvice.ca.

About Dorel Industries Inc
Dorel Industries Inc. (TSX:DII.B)(TSX:DII.A) is a world class juvenile products, home furnishings, and bicycle company. The Company’s safety and lifestyle leadership is pronounced in both its Juvenile and Bicycle categories with an array of trend-setting, innovative products. Dorel Juvenile’s powerfully branded products include global juvenile brands Safety 1st, Quinny, Maxi-Cosi and Tiny Love, complemented by regional brands such as Cosco, Bébé Confort and Infanti. Dorel Industries Inc. has annual sales of US$2.7 billion and employs approximately 10,450 people in facilities located in twenty-five countries worldwide.

About the Study:
Leger conducted a quantitative online survey of 1,530 Canadians. The fieldwork was completed between July 18 and July 21, 2016, using Leger’s online panel, LegerWeb. A probability sample of the same size would yield a margin of error of +/- 2.5 per cent, 19 times out of 20.

SOURCE Allstate Insurance Company of Canada

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Changing climate is raising forest fire risk

By Bruce Cheadle

THE CANADIAN PRESS

OTTAWA _ A new government report says that by the end of this century a changing climate is expected to at least double the area burned each year by forest fires in Canada.

The 2015 annual forest assessment by Natural Resources Canada says a warming climate will contribute to a 50 per cent increase in large fires, new tree diseases and more insect infestations.

“Climate change is gradually imposing an increasing trend on forest fires, a trend that is partially masked by the large variability of this disturbance,” says the report.

The study builds on a body of scientific evidence that became politically charged last May when a massive wildfire forced the evacuation of the northern Alberta oilsands hub, Fort McMurray.

The Fort McMurray fire ended up covering almost 590,00 hectares of boreal forest and is expected to total more than $3.5 billion in insured losses, the largest such insurance loss in Canadian history.

Scientists say it is difficult to link any single natural disaster, such as a flood or fire, to man-made global warming, but that the frequency and intensity of such events has been increasing and is likely to continue, especially in a northern latitude country like Canada.

“The State of Canada’s Forests” report, released last week, notes that even if international efforts are successful in limiting global warming to two degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels, that increase translates into a four-degree Celsius increase for Canada.

Steve Taylor, a Victoria-based research scientist at NRCan’s Pacific Forestry Centre, said in an interview that it is now “well accepted” in the small scientific community that studies forest fires that a warming climate will lead to more fire activity, but with great regional variations and differing impacts depending on fire management.

A warming climate needs to combine with changes in rainfall, ignition sources and high winds to create conditions for the really big fires.

“The tricky thing is, we’re looking at extreme events,” said Taylor.

Wildfires of “Fort McMurray proportions,” he said, have happened perhaps 40 times over the past 30 years but that’s out of some 150,000 forest fires during the same period.

“A common analogy is you’re rolling dice,” said the research scientist.

“There is some background frequency of which a six will come up. But if you load the dice like you might be doing with climate change you have to (roll) it many, many times to see if you get sixes more often.”

The 2015 assessment found that a total of 7,068 forest fires burned about 3.9 million hectares. The number of fires was slightly above the 10-year average, but the area burned was 50 per cent higher. Forest fires forced the evacuation of 125 communities affecting about 15,000 people in 2015.

Saskatchewan saw fires burn three times its 10-year provincial average area and Alberta had more than twice its 10-year average. In Quebec, meanwhile, the area burned in 2015 was less than two per cent of its 10-year average.

“We don’t want to say necessarily the sky is falling, but it should motivate some concern and activity,” Taylor said of the latest forest report.

“We’re in the fortunate position of being able to look ahead and think about how to better prepare over the coming decades to reduce the impacts.”

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