20 Oct Halloween Safety During the Pandemic
Are your youngsters excited about the upcoming holiday? Halloween is a favorite time of year for most kids, but this year brings some new challenges.
No one wants to take the joy of this annual fest/feast away from kids. To help keep them safe, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has put out some smart guidelines on trick-or-treating and other Halloween events.
Mask Up but Mask Right!
First, make sure that your child wears a mask—and that doesn’t mean one that comes with their store-bought costume. One strategy is to dress them up as a doctor or nurse so a surgical-type mask is a natural part of their outfit. But if they want to be a character from Disney or Harry Potter or just dress up as a traditional ghost or witch, in the time of Covid, masks are a must.
Important note: The CDC advises that it’s not a good idea to wear a costume mask over a cloth mask, since it can make breathing more difficult. Also, masks should not be worn on kids under two.
Handling Kids and Candy
The usual method of having children choose their treat out of a bowl or handing some treats to them are problematic this year, since safety requires as little physical contact as possible.
Some possible solutions: Set up a trick-or-treat “station” (or table) outdoors that has individually bagged treats that kids can pick up themselves. Spread them out a bit so each kid touches only his or her bag and be sure to wash your hands before stuffing the bags. You might even consider having hand sanitizer near the treat bags for kids to stay germ-free.
Since you may not want to miss greeting your young visitors, feel free to stand six feet or more away from your goodie bag table— and don’t forget to wear a mask yourself.
Tips for Trick-or-Treaters
Before heading out, make sure your children wash their hands after they’ve put on their protective masks. Bring hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol with you (or give it to your kids, if they are old enough to go out alone, typically 11 and up).
Going out in big groups increases the risk of transmission, so you may want to consider keeping it to just family or perhaps one or two good friends.
Once they bring home the booty, make sure they wash their hands thoroughly before eating any of it. If you want to be extra cautious, you could put it aside for a few days and have some candy on hand that you bought to tide them over.
The Usual Precautions
Pandemic aside, the normal safety advice applies to this year’s Halloween.
- Tell kids to cross only at corners, looking left, right and left again before crossing, and never run across the street.
- Ask them to leave the phones at home, or at least put them down so they can pay attention to where they are walking.
- If your older children are going alone, plan and review the route that is acceptable to you. Agree on a specific time when they should return home.
- Use reflective tape or stickers on costumes, which should never be too long to trip over. Carrying glow sticks or flashlights is also a good idea.
- Remember to drive with extra caution on Halloween, both day and night, since kids may dart in front of your car.
- Remove hoses, tools, bikes and other possible hazards from your front lawn and porch.
- Go through your kids’ candy before allowing them to eat it; throw away anything with a tear in the wrapper or that is homemade; and set limits on how much candy per day can be consumed.
- Protect your pets by keeping them inside and away from the front door.
- Never let a child of any age carve a pumpkin without close supervision—better yet, decorate with paint and stickers.
Finally, if you’re not comfortable sending your kids out this year due to the pandemic, there are alternatives. Some ideas: Hide candy around your house; visit a pumpkin farm or corn maze (bring masks and hand sanitizer) that is practicing social distancing; attend a scavenger hunt; hold a socially distanced costume parade; or host an outdoor movie night with a few close friends and neighbors.