New COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations and deaths have all been decreasing lately.
But we’ve seen coronavirus lulls followed by spikes before, so no one is taking anything for granted. And with Halloween coming in four days, some of us have questions.
Including, how will I keep children and grandchildren safe this year if they are trick or treating? Or if they are attending Halloween parties?
About 5 million children under 18 have tested positive for the virus since the pandemic started. Lately, hospitalizations for kids have increased.
And how do we keep ourselves safe if we’re answering the doorbell and handing out treats?
Safety guidelines for kids
Today I want to share a few suggestions for ways to enjoy Halloween safety. Some of these recommendations come from the CDC.
Starting with precautions for children and grandchildren…
- Consider an alternative to pumpkin carving. Such as decorating with markers, glitter glue, or paint.
- Don’t allow young kids to touch carved-out pumpkins with lit candles inside. Better yet, use flashlights rather than candles.
- Make sure their costumes include a cloth mask.
- A costume mask should be loose with openings for breathing if it’s worn over a cloth mask.
- Make sure their costumes, wigs and accessories are fire-resistant.
- If makeup is part of their costume, test it on them in a small dose in advance. That way you’ll be able to see if a rash or other skin irritation develops.
- If they are old enough to trick or treat on their own, make sure they follow a specific route in well-lit areas, accompanied by friends. Pin your name and phone number on their costume, just in case they get separated from their friends.
- If they’re going to be out after dark, fasten reflective tape to their costumes and bags, and/or give them glow sticks to carry. Kids are twice as likely to be hit by a car on Halloween than on any other night of the year.
- Remind the kids to only cross streets at corners or crosswalks. And to walk across the street, rather than run, and watch out for cars.
- Tell them not to share the treats they collect with other kids. And not to take treats from other children.
- Make sure they know not to have direct contact with anyone handing out treats door to door. And to NEVER enter anyone’s home or vehicle.
- Tell them to try to stay at least six feet away from trick or treaters outside their group.
- Make sure they know not to eat any of their treats until you’ve had a chance to examine them. Give them a snack before they go out to limit the temptation.
- Have them stop back home periodically to rest and wash their hands with soap and water. And have a set time to return after trick or treating. Then limit how much they eat when they come home for the night.
- Don’t allow them to attend any indoor haunted house events. Or go on hayrides or tractor rides with people not living in your household.
Safety recommendations for you
You are probably past the trick or treating stage of your life. But you may wish to participate in the holiday by handing out treats to kids who approach your front door.
Here are some things you might want to consider to keep yourself and the children safe.
- Wash your hands before handling treats you plan to distribute.
- Wear a facemask if you are opening your door and handing out treats.
- To be even safer, prepare individually bagged treats. Leave them on your front porch with a “Take One Only” sign.
- Or, sit outside near your bagged treats to make sure kids aren’t grabbing more than they should. Assuming the weather cooperates.
Retain some ‘normalcy’
You may not feel comfortable allowing your children or grandchildren to trick or treat at all this year. Especially if the coronavirus risk level is high in your community. But don’t avoid the holiday altogether. That could be disappointing to them.
Dr. Robert Glatter is an emergency physician at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City. Here’s what he says.
“Holidays help us maintain our sense of rituals and ‘normalcy’ during a not-so-normal time.
“Whatever we can do to keep holiday celebrations and traditions at least partially intact – while remaining safe – serves as a guidepost or compass during these turbulent times.”
If trick or treating is not an option for your children or grandchildren, there are other activities you can engage in.
For example, carve pumpkins with the kids and display them on your front porch. Walk around the neighborhood with them today, admiring Halloween decorations.
Consider hiding treats around your home. Depending on the age of your children or grandchildren, they might enjoy that.
They can look for them and place them in their bags while wearing costumes. Or conduct a Halloween-themed scavenger hunt for them in your backyard.
Host a Halloween movie night. Visit a corn maze, pumpkin patch or apple orchard together.
COVID-19 has changed everything in our lives. And it’s not over yet. But it doesn’t have to eliminate fun for the kids. Or for us.