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Having a Safe, Fun Halloween

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For both children and adults, Halloween is a special time of year – kicking off the holiday season and giving folks a variety of outlets to express their creativity – from a deftly-carved pumpkin to an inventive costume idea.

Halloween will look different this year, but it can still be safe, fun and enjoyable if we plan ahead, follow public safety guidelines and think about the risk factors facing parents, children and people throughout our community.

Planning ahead: The basics

There are some simple things parents and their children can do to reduce their risk factors during Halloween – from changing the way we conduct trick-or-treating, to continuing to observe masking and social distancing guidelines during the holiday. Here are three things everyone should be doing, based on guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention:

Assess your risk – Do you have chronic or underlying conditions that could put you at increased risk? Are you over the age of 65? Do you live with someone who fits these criteria? If so, they could be at increased risk for severe illness from the virus that causes COVID-19. 

Masks and Costumes – Masking has been our new normal for quite some time now, but remember: a costume mask is not a substitute for your cloth mask unless it is made of two or more layers of breathable fabric and covers your nose and mouth. Everyone should wear a mask while trick-or-treating, but don’t wear a costume mask over your cloth mask – it could make it hard to breathe. Instead, consider wearing a Halloween-themed cloth mask – or celebrate dressed as your favorite doctor, nurse, or other caregiver, so your protective mask will be part of your costume. Masks should not be worn by children under the age of 2 or anyone who has trouble breathing.

Candy – Individually-wrapped candy or treats are a must this year. Steer clear from homemade treats or items that don’t have their own wrapping.

Celebrating Safely

From trick-or-treating to handing out candy and what to do once you and your child return home, there are a few things to consider when it comes to having a safe Halloween this year. Here are some tips and guidelines to follow:

Safely hand out candy – Many parents love handing out candy and interacting with trick-or-treaters, but this year a few extra precautions are necessary. First, if you’re opening the door for trick-or-treaters, be sure to wear a mask and wash your hands frequently. Also, instead of offering a bowl with candy to visitors, use tongs to remove the candy from your bowl and drop it into their bag. This will help reduce everyone’s risk.

Safely trick-or-treating – Just like those handing out candy can help promote health and safety, so too can trick-or-treaters. If your child is going trick-or-treating this year, keep some safety guidelines in mind. First, trick-or-treaters should keep their masks on at all times and maintain social distancing (6 feet) – this means waiting for other trick-or-treaters to leave a house before approaching. Also, don’t allow your children to eat candy along the way – wait until you return home and the items can be wiped down before opening any treats.

At home – Children love to dive into sorting and eating their candy at the end of the night, but this year make sure you do a few things first. Wash your hands and your child’s hands; then wipe down candy wrappers with a disinfectant wipe before your child eats anything (Note: do NOT wipe the candy itself). Finally, throw away any candy that isn’t individually wrapped – even if it is your child’s favorite.

Alternative ideas

If you, your child or a member of your household is at increased risk for COVID-19, you may not want to celebrate this year. Ensuring the health and safety of your family and loved ones should be your first priority – and there are other ways to enjoy Halloween, even if you need to opt out of trick-or-treating.

Trick-or-Treat at home – Even if your child can’t go out, you can still help them get the trick-or-treat experience at home. Set up some indoor and outdoor spaces for your child to visit and receive treats.

Scavenger hunt – Create a spooky or fun Halloween hunt around your house.

Virtual party – If your annual Halloween party is off this year, there’s a wide variety of technology that can help you and your children connect and enjoy the celebration. You can still hold a costume contest or play games even if you are unable to get together in person.

Low-risk activities (Advice from the CDC)

Carving or decorating pumpkins with your family

Carving or decorating pumpkins outside, observing social distancing, with neighbors or friends

Decorating your house, apartment or living space

Halloween movie night with your family

Outdoor costume parade

Visit a pumpkin patch, orchard or corn maze

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