By Kate Rockwood
When it comes to favorite days of the year, Halloween ranks pretty highly with kids (and adults, too!). That’s for good reason. Halloween is a chance to dress up, eat gobs of candy, hang out with friends and family, and stay out well past dark. But to make sure the day is fun and healthy, it’s important to keep certain safety tips in mind. And this year, COVID-19 has thrown some brand new safety considerations into the mix.
That doesn’t mean Halloween 2020 is a goner, but check out these tips for having a safe and healthy Halloween.
It’s hard to know exactly what trick-or-treating will look like in 2020. But whether you’re planning on handing out candy from home, trick-or-treating in your neighborhood, trunk-or-treating in a parking lot, or just hitting up the homes of a few friends and family members, here are a few ways to stay safe:
Even outside, it’s important to wear masks and not just the ones that come with a Halloween costume. Instead, choose a costume that makes it easy to wear a double-layer cloth or paper mask that fits snugly on the mouth and nose, while still making it comfortable to breathe. Adults and any children over the age of 2 should wear one.
Hanging out on packed sidewalks or jostling for candy on crowded doorsteps are not good ideas this year. Maybe your neighborhood will be a ghost town this Halloween, but if it’s still hopping, hang back from large groups of trick-or-treaters. And don’t forget to keep six feet of distance from people in your group, too, if it includes people you don’t live with.
If you’re staying home, and you still want to get some candy into kids’ hands, instead of opening your door for each trick-or-treater or leaving out a community candy bowl, set out small goodie bags spaced out on your lawn or doorstep. When the night is over, give your doorbell a good cleaning.
Along with your masks, don’t forget to grab some hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol before you leave the house. Ask your kids to sanitize their hands after every few houses and avoid touching their face at all times. And, of course, everyone should wash their hands for at least 20 seconds with soap and water once they’re home for the night.
Depending on where you live, your neighborhood might be pretty dark and dreary on Halloween night. Halloween is an especially dangerous night for the combination of cars and pedestrians. To stay visible, decorate costumes with reflective tape, have the kids carry glow sticks or wear glow-in-the-dark necklaces (they’ll love it!) and always cross the street at corners and well-lit intersections instead of in the middle of the road.
When it comes to candy, it’s good to go in with a game plan: How many pieces of candy are you going to let your kids eat? Decide on that magic number before you leave the house. You should also have a rule that you get to inspect your kids’ candy before they eat it. Toss any candy that’s unwrapped or homemade. If you’re giving out candy to trick or treaters, choose candy free from the common food allergens like milk, wheat, eggs, soybeans, peanuts, and tree nuts.
And while being exposed to the coronavirus from a candy wrapper is low risk, it’s not no-risk, so you might want to put your kids’ Halloween stash in candy quarantine for two or three days. That probably won’t go over so well with your kids, so have some store bought candy on hand to tide them over.
For many reasons, you might not feel comfortable going trick-or-treating at all this year or attending most Halloween events. But with a little bit of planning and creativity, you can still have plenty of Halloween fun without your kids feeling like they’re missing out.
The safest Halloween option is hanging out at home with just the people you live with. But at-home doesn’t have to mean “boring.” Plan activities like making your own pizzas and watching some scary movies. Borrow traditions from other holidays and Halloween-ize them. Egg hunts don’t have to be just for Easter. Decorate hard-boiled eggs with Halloween themes and hide them around the house or, even better, fill plastic eggs with candy and host a spooky scavenger hunt. Halloween trees are also becoming a bit of a thing this year.
You might be considering having some close family and friends over for a Halloween gathering at your house or attending one somewhere else. Although it’s natural to feel safe around people you know well, you should still mask up, social distance, and only have people go indoors (masks on) to use the bathroom. Make it a bring-your-own event with families responsible for bringing their own treats to eat and chairs and tables. Plan games like a ring toss or an outdoor candy hunt that can be done while distanced. You should also open windows in your home before people arrive and keep them open after they leave to air out the house.
We’re not talking about fast food here. Drive-through haunted experiences where you never have to leave your car aren’t new this year, but they are likely to be popular this year especially since many haunted houses won’t be opening. Check your area for spooky experiences or drive-in movies so that you don’t have to leave the safety of your own car.
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