There are more questions than usual this Halloween. Should we go trick-or-treating with our friends? Is it safe to collect candy from different houses? Experts note that trick-or-treating even with key precautions still has risks parents must weigh.
“Our area still has a moderate incidence of COVID-19 so families need to weigh if trick-or-treating is worth it,” said Memorial Satilla Health’s Dr. Roberto Lopez-Vega. To learn more about the COVID-19 risk level in our community, go to www.Halloween2020.org where the Harvard Global Health Institute has an interactive map that details COVID risk level by county.
“If you take the kids outside for limited trick-or-treating, recognize it’s going to be very different from last year and prepare the kids with the new safety rules,” Dr, Lopez-Vega added. Scientists don’t currently think that surface spread is the main mode of COVID-19 transmission.
Some of the biggest risks for this Halloween are:
Who you are trick-or-treating with
Be aware of who is within six feet of you for more than 10-15 minutes as defined by the CDC. Instead of joining a big block party or group of trick-or-treaters this year, try and stick to just your family or smaller groups and keep your masks on.
Face to face time
Trick-or-treat exchanges on the porch need to be brief and socially distanced. The more households you visit, the greater chance for germs to spread and linger – so keep it quick and move on.
Communal candy collection
Instead of putting hands in big candy bowls and digging through, this might be the year for small goodie bags already portioned out. Candy in bags can be placed by adults into trick-or-treat bags without children having to reach in a big bowl. Encourage kids to use hand sanitizer throughout the route and wash hands often, especially before eating anything from their tour around the neighborhood.
The experts add to skip the house parties and school dances this year to limit your COVID-19 risk. “You should limit your group to just your family or three or four kids at most,” note Dr. Lopez-Vega. “Choose those friends that you know have been practicing social distancing and limiting their own exposure as well.”
Parents need to go over the new ground rules early and make sure children understand before setting out to collect loot
Make sure your children understand they shouldn’t dig in candy bowls. They should ask the host to drop some in their bags.
Have kids stay in their group or with the family. Keeping a social distance this Halloween is important, even outside.
Warn children not to share toys, costume props, or candy bags. No trading princess bags for someone’s light up necklace. Ask each child to hold onto their own things and candy bag.
Bring hand sanitizer and use it to clean little hands between every few homes. *
Give kids a break with wearing their masks. When they’re away from the porch/doorway, let them take a minute to breathe and regroup if needed.
Above all else, wear a mask
Since many costumes already have some sort of mask or disguise, it shouldn’t be hard to incorporate a face covering into your child’s costume. Parents should be a good role model and wear one a well.
The CDC notes that you should not use costume masks in place of cloth masks
Do not use a costume mask as a substitute for a cloth mask unless it is made of two or more layers of breathable fabric that covers your child’s mouth and nose and doesn’t leave gaps around the face.
Do not wear a costume mask over a cloth mask because the costume mask could make it hard to breathe. Instead, consider using a Halloween-themed cloth mask.
If you’re giving out candy, think ahead. Make small bags and give out little grab bags this year. There are lots of ways to enjoy the holiday with a few new rules to keep everyone safe.
For more general information on how to keep your children safe this Halloween visit the American Academy of Pediatrics.