Come Rain, Shine, or COVID-19, Halloween is Here. Here’s How to Halloween Safely.

Halloween during the covid19 coronavirus pandemic

At this time last year, you were probably reminding your child to choose a Halloween costume so that you wouldn’t be left scrambling the night before, picking which candy to give out, and gearing up for having way too much sugar in the house.

But this year, Halloween is a whole different ball game.

The COVID-19 pandemic has upended many things for children (well, everyone) this year, from canceling summer camps to switching to online school — and now, your child might be worried that the pandemic is going to get in the way of their favorite holiday, too.

The good news is that Halloween isn’t going anywhere. Your child can still turn into a zombie or a cat, decorate a pumpkin, and enjoy dressing up. However, COVID-19 does mean making some adjustments and taking extra steps to stay safe.

Remember Trick-or-Treating Safety

Whether during a pandemic or not, there are many ways to ensure your child’s safety during trick-or-treating.

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Make sure your child is seen. Your child can:
  • Wear reflective clothing and costumes. You can DIY this with reflective tape or stickers.
  • Use flashing reflectors, wristbands, or flashlights.
  • Carry a glow stick
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Costume Safety

  • Cut back on excess fabric, since that can turn into a tripping or fire hazard.
  • Use flame-resistant fabric and wigs.
  • Wear bright outfits, rather than all black.
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Pedestrian Safety

  • Younger children should be with an adult or older sibling.
  • Always look both ways before crossing the street.
  • Use sidewalks whenever possible.
  • Walk, don’t run.
  • Only go to well-lit houses, and do not enter a stranger’s home.
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Candy Safety

  • Check your child’s bag before they eat anything.
  • Throw away any item that could be a choking hazard or candy that is unwrapped, spoiled, or appears suspicious.
  • Make sure your child doesn’t eat any candy that contains something they are allergic to, like peanuts.

Make Trick-or-Treating COVID-19-Friendly

Trick-or-treating policies may vary by city or county, so make sure to check before knocking on your neighbors’ doors.

Here in Douglas County, trick-or-treating is still on — but it’s critical to take certain safety measures and make adjustments this year, such as:

  • Avoiding large trick-or-treating groups
  • Standing six feet apart from other trick-or-treaters when waiting for candy, rather than clustering on doorsteps
  • Carrying hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol and using it frequently along the way
  • Washing your hands and your child’s hands before handling sweets
  • Having your child wear a cloth mask — not a costume mask — that covers their mouth and nose
  • If you are giving out candy, lining up individually packaged treat bags outside so children can grab-and-go, without reaching their hands into a bowl or touching your hand

Even though it’s still unclear how much the virus can spread from touching surfaces (like candy wrappers), you may want to err on the side of caution and wipe off the wrappers. Remember not to use disinfectant spray or wipes on wrappers, since they can seep in and contaminate the candy.

Choose Events to Participate in Wisely

From parties to haunted houses to visiting pumpkin patches, Halloween activities go beyond trick-or-treating.

As you choose which events to participate in, look for ones where you can socially distance and, if possible, stay outdoors.

The Douglas County Department of Public Health recommends avoiding haunted houses or costume parties with large crowds. Instead, choose low-risk activities such as going to pumpkin patches and carving pumpkins outside.

Get Creative

Remember that phrase, “necessity is the mother of invention”? Well, now is the time to take that to the next level.

There are plenty of ways to ensure that your child still has the Halloween they love without increasing their risk for COVID-19:

  • Create a Halloween-themed scavenger hunt. Hide candy or Halloween toys around the house or yard, and give your child clues. (Pro-tip: Remember where you hid all the candy. You do not want to find melted chocolate under the couch next spring).
  • Have a spooky movie night complete with costumes and popcorn. Ask your child’s friends’ parents if they want to start the same movie at the same time so that it can be a shared experience.
  • Go virtual. Kids love showing off their costumes, even if it’s the exact same thing they wore for the past 3 years. Set up times for them to do so via video call with grandparents, aunts and uncles, or family friends.
  • Take decorating up a notch. Let your child go crazy with the fake spider webs and bedsheet ghosts. Just be sure that decorations are age-appropriate and do not become choking hazards.
  • Make healthy — and fun — Halloween treats. Now is a great time to teach your child that healthy snacks don’t have to be boring. For example, a peeled tangerine with a thin slice of celery on top makes a great nutritious “pumpkin.”

Mask Up — The Right Way

Masks are one of the best ways to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Your child may complain that Elsa does not wear a mask, but be firm that it’s still necessary.

If possible, help your child choose a costume where a mask is a part of it. However, remember the following:

  • A costume mask is not a replacement for a cloth one that covers the mouth and nose.
  • Your child should not wear a costume mask over a cloth one, since this can make breathing difficult.
  • If you are planning to draw on your child’s mask, only use non-toxic markers, fabric paint, or fabric markers.
  • Do not sew anything onto the mask — a sewing needle can poke little holes that make the mask ineffective.

Watch the Candy Intake

Kids tend to eat a little more candy than usual around Halloween. And as long as they don’t overdo it, it’s okay to let them have some treats at the holiday (unless they have a condition like diabetes, where they have to closely monitor their sugar intake). It might be tempting to be even more lax this year, since this has been quite a stressful year.

However, the pandemic has also left many children cooped up inside where they have easier access to snacks and might not get as much physical activity as they would if they were in school. The providers at Children’s have already seen obesity and weight gain on the rise in their patients throughout the past year.

This means that it’s more important than ever before to pay close attention to how much sugar they’re eating and set limits. You don’t need to take it all away — COVID-19 has thrown a wrench into many kids’ Halloween plans, so taking away their chocolate might not land you on their favorite person list. Just be mindful and make an extra effort to offer healthy, tasty snacks.

Whether your child goes trick-or-treating or you decide to stay in for movies, we wish you a very happy and safe Halloween.

Do you have questions about Halloween safety? Contact your child’s pediatrician to learn more.

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