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As I look out the den window to the front lawn and driveway, I'm reminded Ma Nature cares not a whit if you've got Halloween props spread out all over the place. The winds are gusting to 60mph (90kph) this afternoon and will continue to wreak their unyielding havoc well into tomorrow.

In the global scheme of things, I suppose wind having a go at one's Halloween display is a good problem to have.

Despite this wonderful display of meteorological might, there has been virtually no damage, other than a crooked tombstone or two. Many, many years ago, when I started doing the Halloween thing, I would worry when the weather got out of hand, having visions of reapers flying in through the living room window and impaling me. Now, I just wait for conditions to settle down, knowing I can go out and deal with a relatively straightforward fix.

This isn't to say the weather is absent the potential to destroy the display, just that the display is built for very challenging weather.

Every year, I see post after post lamenting the weather, either actual or forecast. I get it: It really does suck when all your time, effort, and out-of-pocket gets trashed. With that in mind, I can only offer the following advice based on 15+ years of doing this. If you've been at it for a while, you already know most of this. The advice is really targeted at the newer enthusiasts.

The ultimate point is, if you put up stuff outside, the stuff's going to be outside. So, put it up expecting the worse. It's the easiest way not to worry too much about a potential mess.

When building your props and setting up your display, in particular if it is well ahead of the appointed day, you absolutely must assume the following:

(1) At some point, the wind's fury will exceed the speed of light and potentially bridge the gap between quantum and gravitational physics in a mathematically satisfying unifying theory;

(2) It will rain enough to put the entire planet under ten feet of water, hastening some of the nastier aspects of climate change.

Again, if your setup is short term, no probs. If, on the other hand, you're looking long term, it is indeed possible to minimize weather-related hassles.

If you're going to have stuff out for over a week, avoid fragile materials (untreated paper or cardboard, thin styrofoam, etc...) or other lightweight stuff that can't be bolted down. The stuff I do have that is paper-based is glue mached and coated in polyurethane. It will probably outlast my vehicle. My two styrofoam props are bolted right up against a fence with huge washers. If your styrofoam stuff is standalone - I discourage thin styrofoam, e.g., store-bought tombstones - try to frame it.

Try to frame your props with wood, PVC/ABS tubing, or steel. When assembling the props, use nut-and-bolt combinations whenever possible - i.e., avoid nails or screws - and make sure the nuts/bolts are well bigger than what you really need. They're easy to re-tighten and assembly/disassembly is a snap.

Attach as much as you can to your house, fence, trees, or other structurally sound objects. If something really large needs to be tied back, use ratchet straps. Bungee cords, on the other hand, can become dangerous in heavy winds and should be avoided. Just ask Ralphie: You'll put yer eye out. Never use string. Use zip ties. Zip ties are every home haunters favourite little friend.

Absent a solid place to hook up your props, your other best friend is rebar, securely hammered into the ground. When using rebar, 1 1/2" PVC/ABS tubing is particularly practical, as it can be slid down securely and, more importantly, quickly slipped off and set aside in the event of high winds. I mostly use this method for my lawn props; this morning, I lifted up and temporarily laid a couple of guys down on the lawn. If the prop is tall, consider anchoring with a 4x4 fence post and a superspike. It takes a bit of work, but props tied down this way are not going anywhere. I speak from experience. If your prop is in the vicinity of something sold, you can always snake a bit of steel wire over to it to provide additional leverage against the wind.

A good staple gun is critical. Always, however, use longer staples and put more than you think you really need. You're not just sticking something in the right place, you're also securing it there. If you're stapling material, double or triple it over before stapling or reinforce the area with a piece of electrician's tape before stapling through.

Last year, when I posted the most recent version of this thread, a couple of haunters mentioned they weigh things down with heavy chains, an excellent idea that marries well with many haunt themes.

However it is you make or affix things, always, always overdo it. When NASA sent men to the moon, they were pretty much making it all up as they went along. So, they overcompensated with everything. Think about this when building a prop; i.e., try to imagine what kind of damage a whole day of rain and wind will cause and plan accordingly. Then, once you've finished weather-proofing the thing, overdo it some more.

Yes, that's right, setting up a home haunt is no different than the Apollo 11 mission. That's what I'm really trying to say.

I have no doubt others on this incredible forum have solid advice for building a relatively hassle- and stress-free impregnable Halloween weather fortress. I'm hopeful some can share their sage advice.

Cheers and good luck,

JD
 

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I'm actually picking up some rebar after work. I always use stakes in the ground, or heavy concrete blocks to hold other props.

My concern is it's supposed to get pretty cold tomorrow night, like 25 F or something... I'll be wearing the long johns during clean up...
 

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We have 30 degrees again with 30 mph winds wow..... a 50 degree difference from last year. It
is suppose to be 40 tomorrow wow..... im moving farther south next year. Tired of freezing to death
6 months out of the year. I like this state but the weather is the same as Maine or Canada
 

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A couple of years ago - I discovered the magic of old large rusty chains!

I drape them over my lightweight foam props and tombstones. They look great and nothing moves.
 
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