October 26, 2020

Halloween during COVID-19: safety first

by

Even during the pandemic, there are ways to have Halloween fun while staying safe.

Keeping your family safe during COVID-19, has been a priority with all families. Halloween traditions will look different this year, however there are plenty of ways families can still have fun while avoiding the scare of being exposed to or spreading the virus. Keep doing what you have been doing: avoiding large gatherings, keeping a distance of six feet from others, wear cloth face coverings (think superhero!), and washing hands often

“If you come from a county with rising COVID -19 cases you may want to avoid trick-or- treating all together and focus on those low-risk activities your family can still enjoy,” says Purnima Unni, Pediatric Trauma Injury Prevention Program Manager at Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt.

Assess the Risks

Use this handy chart to compare low-, moderate- and high-risk Halloween activities.

The Center for Disease Control suggests that many traditional Halloween activities are considered high-risk activities for spreading viruses. Consider having your family participate in these alternative low-risk activities:

  • Hosting a pumpkin decorating contest with household family members.
  • Decorating your house, apartment or living space.
  • Organizing a Halloween scavenger hunt where children can find. Halloween- themed items inside and outside your home. 
  • Hosting a virtual Halloween costume contest.
  • Having a small group, outdoor, open-air costume party where people are distanced more than 6 feet apart. 

Make trick-or-treating safer

With neighborhood trick-or-treating uncertain, drop candy-filled goodie bags at friends’ or neighbors’ doorsteps as a contact-free way of spreading the wealth without spreading the germs. Avoid direct contact with trick-or-treaters and wear masks. Set up a station with individually bagged treats for kids to take outdoor on a table. Remember to wash hands before handling treats. As difficult as it may sound, have your child bring all their candy home, so you can clean them and wipe them down before you have them eat it.

Costumes and Masks

Although Halloween may look different for your family this year, your child wearing a Halloween costume may still be an option.  Here are a few things to consider when selecting a costume for your child and trick or treating outdoors:

  • Visibility: Make sure your child’s costume has bright colors on it. If not, consider adding strips of reflective tape or stickers to it. This will help with being visible to drivers at night.
  • Swapping out costume masks for face paint: Try using face paint and make-up as an alternative to masks. Costume masks can often block your child’s vision causing a potential hazard. Make sure that the face paints used comply with government standards, like the FDA. Read the guidelines given on the paint boxes and comply with them. Also consider water-based face paints, as they are easy to use and even easier to wash off. Be careful with your eyes when using or washing off paints.
  • If using face masks remember:
    • Make your cloth mask part of your costume.
    • A costume mask is not a substitute for a cloth mask.
    • Do NOT wear a costume mask over a cloth mask. It can make breathing more difficult.
    • Masks should NOT be worn by children under the age of 2 or anyone who has trouble breathing.
  • Costume length: Make sure that your child’s costume doesn’t have any long or trailing material as this could cause your child to potentially trip and fall. 
  • Costume Accessories: If your child’s costume comes with a long sword or cane, make sure that it is made of a soft material. Be sure to add reflective tape or glow-in-the-dark tape to any costume accessories.

Wash your hands

  • Bring hand sanitizer with you and use it after touching objects or other people.
  • Use hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.
  • Parents: supervise young children using hand sanitizer.
  • Wash hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds when you get home and before you eat any treats.

Thanks to COVID-19, Halloween is going to look a lot different this year. Remember you can still have fun but strategize with other parents on creative ways to minimize risk and maximize fun.

This post was written by Purnima Unni, the Pediatric Trauma Injury Prevention Program Manager for Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt and is a certified child passenger safety technician. She is a wife and mother of two girls. She loves to cook, travel and watch murder mysteries. She is fluent in three languages and wishes she had a green thumb.