A Safe and Happy Halloween
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A Safe and Happy Halloween

In years past Halloween safety has been focused on ensuring kids trick-or-treated with an adult and that they could see and be seen in the dark. But as we all know, this is no ordinary year. To make the best of this fun annual tradition, even during a pandemic, requires some careful consideration.

Some traditional Halloween activities are just too risky this year. No bobbing for apples. Traditional trick-or-treating and trunk-or-treating are not advised. Indoor Halloween parties, hayrides, and haunted houses with people other than those you live with are all a bad idea. But there are so many fun things you can do safely. Here are the top five ideas:

  1. Visit the pumpkin patch. Wear your mask, and sanitize your hands before and after touching pumpkins.
  2. Decorate your home inside, for your family to enjoy, and outside for neighbors and friends.
  3. Hold a small distanced, outdoor pumpkin-carving party. Everyone should be masked and stay 6 feet apart. Or carve pumpkins indoors with members of your household.
  4. Try a virtual costume contest, scavenger hunt, or movie night.
  5. Hold a costume contest, scavenger hunt, or movie night outdoors. Distancing and masks keep outdoor events in the moderate, rather than high, risk category. Avoid alcohol, as it can make it difficult to stick to recommended precautions.

For all but virtual events, choose a costume that allows the use of a cloth face covering. Note that Halloween masks cannot act in place of a cloth face covering to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Wearing both a Halloween mask and a facemask can make it difficult to breathe. Instead, opt for the cloth face mask.

If you must trick-or-treat, you should do so only at the houses of people you know have washed their hands carefully before preparing or handling treats and who can deliver treats at a distance.

Some creative people have devised candy shoots with mailing tubes or rain gutters. Using clean hands to set candy in small piles or bags along a porch railing or on a table at the end of a driveway might be another option.

Of course, if you or your child have been exposed to COVID-19 or either of you are feeling ill, you should not participate in any Halloween festivities.

By enhancing the COVID-safe aspects of your Halloween celebrations and decreasing the risky ones, you can have a safe and memorable Halloween.

Donna Barron, RN, is the infection preventionist at Southwestern Vermont Medical Center. 

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