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Halloween Tips and Tricks

The CDC issued guidelines this week on how to safely celebrate Halloween during an ongoing COVID pandemic.

Suggestions included a virtual Halloween costume contest, pumpkin carving, family movie night, and home decorations.

Children screaming appear to be concerned for COVID spread according to the CDC website.

Moreover, they cautioned on the risk of wearing a costume mask over a face covering as it pertains to breathing.

On their website they suggested the following “low risk” activities:

  • Carving or decorating pumpkins with members of your household and displaying them
  • Carving or decorating pumpkins outside, at a safe distance, with neighbors or friends
  • Decorating your house, apartment, or living space
  • Doing a Halloween scavenger hunt where children are given lists of Halloween-themed things to look for while they walk outdoors from house to house admiring Halloween decorations at a distance
  • Having a virtual Halloween costume contest
  • Having a Halloween movie night with people you live with
  • Having a scavenger hunt-style trick-or-treat search with your household members in or around your home rather than going house to house

 

“Moderate risk” activities include the following:

  • Participating in one-way trick-or-treating where individually wrapped goodie bags are lined up for families to grab and go while continuing to social distance (such as at the end of a driveway or at the edge of a yard)
  • If you are preparing goodie bags, wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 second before and after preparing the bags.
  • Having a small group, outdoor, open-air costume parade where people are distanced more than 6 feet apart
  • Attending a costume party held outdoors where protective masks are used and people can remain more than 6 feet apart
  • A costume mask (such as for Halloween) is not a substitute for a cloth mask. A costume mask should not be used unless it is made of two or more layers of breathable fabric that covers the mouth and nose and doesn’t leave gaps around the face.
  • Do not wear a costume mask over a protective cloth mask because it can be dangerous if the costume mask makes it hard to breathe. Instead, consider using a Halloween-themed cloth mask.
  • Going to an open-air, one-way, walk-through haunted forest where appropriate mask use is enforced, and people can remain more than 6 feet apart
  • If screaming will likely occur, greater distancing is advised. The greater the distance, the lower the risk of spreading a respiratory virus.
  • Visiting pumpkin patches or orchards where people use hand sanitizer before touching pumpkins or picking apples, wearing masks is encouraged or enforced, and people are able to maintain social distancing
  • Having an outdoor Halloween movie night with local family friends with people spaced at least 6 feet apart
  • If screaming will likely occur, greater distancing is advised. The greater the distance, the lower the risk of spreading a respiratory virus.
  • Lower your risk by following CDC’s recommendations on hosting gatherings or cook-outs.

With the “high risk” Halloween festivities including traditional Trick or Treating, indoor Haunted Houses and packed costume parties.

The CDC also urges anyone with COVID-19 or who has been exposed to the virus to not participate in the above festivities.

Ghosts, goblins, Mommy yelling – Halloween can be pretty scary. But the candy, the costumes, decorations, and running door to door threatening all your neighbors with a “trick” makes it one of the most exciting days of the year!

Unfortunately, the more fun and immersed into the festivities, the more dangerous for our little ones. 160,000 injuries occur on this day each year, and even scarier, Halloween is the deadliest for pediatric pedestrians with 7300 fatalities reported annually by the National Safety Council.

Thousands have petitioned the White House over the last few years to move Halloween officially to the last Saturday of October to avoid families rushing home on a work/school night to start the festivities.

This year Halloween does fall on a Saturday.

So parties and late-night neighborhood jaunts are inevitable.

 

For those areas in which neighborhoods will celebrate Halloween traditionally, parents need to be aware of not only traffic accidents and COVID risks but also fire and choking hazards. We, therefore, recommend the following to keep our kids safe.

  1. Make sure your child’s mask allows him/her to see clearly and breathe easily. If not, replace it with non-toxic makeup that is tested a few days before on a small area of skin on their arm to ensure they are not allergic. The makeup should be washed off before bedtime.

2. Avoid long costumes, such as ghost-themed, that may trip your child while they walk/run.

3. Use bright-colored costumes. If your child insists on a dark costume, such as Batman, put a belt of glow sticks around him or add reflective tape to their costume and trick or treat bags

4. Make sure all costumes and hats are flame resistant and teach your kids how to avoid tripping over jack-o-lanterns with candles in them.

5. Avoid costume contact lenses as they may decrease visual acuity, scratch the eye and cause infection.

 

6. Use the sidewalk. Your child will want to zig-zag across the street when they see everyone else doing it. You need to be the parent like me who yells at everyone to get back on the sidewalk.

7. Watch out for drunk drivers. Many are coming back from a “trick or drink” party and could be impaired.

8. Make the “no eating candy until you get home” rule. Allows you to check the candy for open wrappers and dangerous things that don’t belong. Then steal your favorite treats when the child is taking his/her potty break

9. Teach your child to not enter a stranger’s home – even if it is in full decoration

10. Stay in a group and follow your children. You can leave a safe distance behind while still supervise. And it’s fun when we parents compete for who can yell at our kids the loudest.

11. Carry Walkie Talkies. Halloween streets get loud and kids may not hear you if they start walking down a different street and turn into a housing complex. Walkie talkies are fun and keep you connecting with your younglings’ even if they are a few feet away.

12. Parents should avoid “Trick-o-Drink!!”ing where we walk around with our red plastic cup and rather than ask for candy, we opt for some spirits poured in. Parents giggle, feeling apart of the festivities, but unfortunately will be sloshed by the fourth home they hit and won’t be able to effectively supervise the children. We need to be at the top of our game this Halloween. Cut the booze.

13. And drivers, be wary of trick-or-treaters even before it gets dark. Drive slowly and pay attention! Let’s have a Happy and Safe one!!!

Daliah Wachs, MD, FAAFP is a nationally syndicated radio personality on GCN Network, KDWN, iHeart Radio and is a Board Certified Family Physician
@DrDaliah