If there’s one time we can all agree on masks, it’s Halloween. Plenty has been said about youth not being susceptible to the disease, and while there is indeed some truth to that when compared to older populations, children are not a Godsent immunity to the coronavirus. Some have gotten sick from it, and many have been asymptomatic carriers. As many schools are opening up, the odds of one asymptomatic carrier spreading the disease to another are, at least, increased, and at worst, probable.
With that in mind, children’s well being may not be the top issue when it comes to Trick-or-Treating safely, rather the safety of more vulnerable members of their families they may come in contact after the festivities (because candy is made to be shared, after all). It’s been a long time for kids experiencing the new normal, and if nothing more than an exercise in anxiety relief for the kids, some fun can certainly still be had.
We spoke with three health and public safety experts on the best tips and tricks for families to stay safe during Halloween this year. Here are some tips to help your youngsters have some Halloween fun while still practicing good habits relative to preventing the prevention of COVID-19.
Costumes With Gloves!
Much like the masks, choosing a costume with gloves is a classic two-bird-with-one-stone scenario, allowing for truly touchless exchanges of candy with neighbors and a much quicker clean up when the night is over (the ol’ trash can clean up).
Control Traffic of Candy Eaters
Limiting crowds and promoting social distancing is going to be a responsibility that everyone who goes out on Halloween must take heed of.
According to Professor Laura Flinn, Assistant Professor in the Online Nursing program at Bradley University, “If you are walking up to a house and see several other children on the doorstep, wait for them to come off prior to sending your child up to get their candy. Make sure to have your children wash their hands prior to opening any candy.”
Sanitize the Wrappers
This goes for both citizens participating in trick-or-treating by providing candy, as well as parents of children who are collecting it. You shouldn’t buy nor (especially not) accept unwrapped candy any year, but that goes double for 2020. Simply taking sanitization wipes on the outside surfaces of your candy will do the trick quickly and effectively.
According to Valerie Martinez, Certified Pediatric Nurse Practitioner teaching in the online Nursing Practice programs at the University of Central Florida, it’s key to “wipe candy before eating – it isn’t clear how much touching objects can spread COVID-19, but to be on the safe side, wipe down candy wrappers or let them sit for 48-72 hours. Keep a few pieces of Halloween candy on hand to offer your child that evening instead of going through their trick-or-treat haul.”
Martinez adds that part of this whole process is “‘teaching your children the importance of protecting themselves and others.”
Avoid the Bowls
Anyone wanting to make a kid happy by giving them some candy on Halloween is probably an alright person, but for those who can’t be home or choose not to interact, it’s best to avoid the “take one please” bowls this year, as a lot of hands are going in and out of those bowls.
And if you’re wondering how to participate in candy giving in a safe way, Martinez suggests to “set up a table and place candy individually on the table. Kids can pick their favorite without touching other pieces. You can also prepackage goodie bags and encourage kids to take one each. Setting up a bottle of hand sanitizer on your table can also be helpful.”
Instead of lingering inside your house and opening up the door every time someone arrives, it’s safer to just hang out outside and pass out candy.
“If it is too cold to stay outside, set up your table and head inside to watch a Halloween movie, you can refill your table as needed,” Martinez suggests.
Check Your Surroundings
With or without COVID, it’s always important to check your surroundings when walking around outside in the dark. The pandemic has added an additional layer of safety precautions that need to be taken regarding disease transmission, but don’t forget the basic safety measures you should always be taking.
According to Kameko McGuire, DNP, PMHNP-BC, NP-C, Online Graduate Nursing Faculty at Regis College, in order to make sure you or your kids are safe during trick-or-treating, “make sure you are aware of your surroundings, travel in a group, and avoid areas you do not know well. Take care to avoid dangerous and unfamiliar areas. Avoid dark, poorly lighted areas.”
Stay Inside Instead
If you’re wary about all of these safety measures and would rather stay in, there are several fun things you can do from the safety of your home to still have a great Halloween
“Instead of having large family gatherings or making the rounds to all the grandparents houses, help your kids have a virtual Halloween party or parade at your house. Facetime your family and have them see the children getting into their costumes and transforming into their favorite superhero, princess, or scary monster,” adds Professor Flinn.
Though Halloween parties should certainly be kept to household members, screen sharing on Zoom can allow your youngsters to have a scary movie night with their friends! It’s very easy to set up, and even if you’re on a computer without a second screen for viewing the movie, you can set the screen sharing to only be part of the screen so your kids can chat and laugh and scream while seeing their buddies.
If there are any concerns, whatsoever, that you may have regarding your child’s health, or your own, do the responsible thing and go get tested, especially if you plan on coming in contact with any elderly or otherwise vulnerable family members after the candy gets eaten up. Thanksgiving is not far away, and ensuring everyone in your household is COVID-free should be way up on the holiday priority list this year.
Just as everything else has evolved with the restrictions and knowledge we learn from dealing with this pandemic, so should fun. There’s enough in the world to bum our kids out, luckily there are plenty of ways to let them enjoy the spooky holiday without brining home anything truly scary.