Halloween is a highly anticipated day for children of all ages, but this year’s celebrations may look different due to COVID-19. Here are some tips to safely enjoy the holiday while keeping ghosts, ghouls, goblins – and germs – at a distance.
As with most activities outside the home, if you have been exposed to COVID-19 in the prior 14 days or have symptoms consistent with COVID-19, you should not participate in any in-person festivities. This includes trick or treating and handing out candy from your house.
Dr. Gigi Youngblood, who sees patients at Pediatrics East, says that parents may need to be more involved this year to ensure that children are still following COVID-19 precautions during Halloween festivities. “Parents will need to be very hands-on this year, even with older kids who might usually go trick-or-treating on their own. We will need to supervise our kids to make sure they are being good neighbors, waiting their turn to approach the treats, hand sanitizing between houses, and keeping their masks on,” she said.
She said wiping down the candy you distribute or the treats your child receives isn’t really an effective way to control the spread of the coronavirus. “I would recommend washing hands thoroughly and wearing a mask prior to opening the sealed package that individual candies come in. Spreading out treats at the end of a driveway or edge of a yard is an effective way to prevent trick-or-treaters from clustering around a bowl or your doorway. Keep a mask on and continue to wash hands or use hand sanitizer as you replenish the treats.
And for all the trick-or-treaters who usually enjoy their candy as they move about the neighborhood, make sure they are using excellent hand hygiene. Sanitize hands between each house. “You might want to bring along a few of their favorite treats from your own home candy stash to give them when they ask to dig into their Halloween loot while still out and about,” Youngblood said. And as soon as you return home, everyone needs to wash hands thoroughly with soap and warm water for at least 20 seconds.
Costumes are always part of Halloween fun, but Youngblood said most costume masks aren’t enough to control the spread of the virus. “Halloween costume masks are often not sufficient. We need to use our typical, well-fitted, cloth masks to ensure the droplets coming from our mouths and noses are contained,” she said.
When selecting a costume, make sure it fits well to prevent trips and falls. “Reflective tape or stickers, as well as flashlights and glowsticks can help drivers spot children while they are out trick-or-treating,” said Marie Crew, director of Safe Kids Alabama at Children’s of Alabama.
“Drivers should slow down and be especially alert in residential neighborhoods,” Crew said. “Children are excited on Halloween and may move in unpredictable ways.”
Parents and caregivers should remind their trick-or-treaters to cross the street at corners, using traffic signals and crosswalks. Look left, right and left again when crossing the street and keep looking as you cross. Crew suggests using sidewalks or paths, and where those aren’t available, walk facing traffic as far to the left as possible.
Visit the American Academy of Pediatrics, Centers for Disease Control and Safe Kids Worldwide for additional Halloween safety tips.