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-: Oct 05, 2020 / John Garrigan

halloween safety during covid-19

This issue of SecurAlert taps some of the nation’s leading experts and informational websites to provide some great tips on how to enjoy a fun, spooky time at Halloween while helping keep the elusive COVID-19 boogey man away!

General Precautions

  • If you may have COVID-19 or you may have been exposed to someone with COVID-19, you should not participate in in-person Halloween festivities and should not give out candy to trick-or-treaters.
  • Forgo the traditional house-to-house trick-or-treat ritual (including placement of grab bowls) as it is very difficult to maintain social distancing on porches and at front doors and that everyone answering or coming to a door is appropriately masked to help prevent disease transmission (see alternative CDC recommendations later in this publication).
  • If you are going to hand out candy in person, make sure you are wearing a face covering over your nose and mouth. Keep strangers outside your home – on your front porch, driveway, yard or sidewalk, if you can.
  • Avoid crowded, confined venues; forget bobbing for apples! Keep group activities outdoors. And nix any indoor Halloween parties you may be planning.
  • Limit trick-or-treating to 3 to 4 kids/persons; this year skip the house parties, group meandering to visit neighborhood houses, etc.
  • Do not give out or accept unwrapped goodies (such as fruit).
  • Maintain social distancing and have kids and adults carry hand sanitizer and use frequently.

6 feet 6 feet

At the end of HALLOWS EVE, disinfect doorknobs, doorbells, buzzers or other high-touch surfaces outside your home.

  • Everyone 2 and up should wear masks – make them spooky of course; experts warn that if a costume mask involves a mask that doesn’t sufficiently cover the face, consider skipping it altogether in favor or a regular cloth mask. “Don’t wear a costume mask over a protective cloth mask because it can be dangerous if the costume mask makes it hard to breath, the CDC advises. “Instead, consider using a Halloween-themed cloth mask.”
  • Avoid touching doorbells and use sanitizer after touching objects
  • Keep any Halloween interaction brief and follow CDC guidelines.
  • Trick-or-treaters should use hand sanitizer regularly and avoid touching their face. Have kids take breaks and give kids hand sanitizer to clean their hands between multiple homes.
  • Don’t eat candy until you wash and sanitize your hands properly. Put away the bulk of the unopened candy for three days to allow any virus to naturally dissipate.
  • Tell kids not to share props (“swords”, etc.), toys, or bowls. Ask each of your children to hold onto their own candy bags.
  • Parents can wipe down candy or let it sit for a couple of days if they are worried about surface transmission of the virus. Most experts say that bacteria on candy wrappers is not a major concern and not the main mode of COVID-10 transmission; just wash your hands before you eat any candy.

For a safer Halloween, follow the 4 W’s.

4W’s

Wash your hands, Wear your mask, Watch your distance, Walk away from groups

Host a pumpkin carving contest (while wearing masks and maintaining social distancing of course) in your backyard with a small group of neighbors or friends.

Fun and Safe Alternatives

  • Individually bagging treats and leaving them on a table in your driveway (or hang them from a fence) so kids can grab one as they walk by (you can wave the little monsters from your front steps or porch). You can have these dispense using a PVC pipe (think “Candy Chute”!)
  • If you want to give out candy in person, use a table and stand 6 feet away from approaching “goblins” and wear gloves to provide them with their treats.
  • Ditch the traditional communal Halloween candy bowl and have adults set up decorated tables or booths in their front yards where they can hand out individual bags or cups of candy. This keeps contact to a minimum while also still showcasing decorations and hauntingly good personality.
  • Trick or treat around the house (family members and close friends only); turn off the lights, put some spooky music, give kids a flashlight and let them find the candy!
  • Buy Halloween-themed eggs at Amazon (or other on-line retailer), or Halloween-ify old plastic eggs you already own (glow sticks work, too!) with stickers or markers. Add candy, and hide them in the yard or around the house! Grab glow sticks and glow-in-the-dark eggs at Amazon for a nighttime search.
  • REVERSE TRICK OR TREAT! Make Halloween cards and goody bags for neighbors. Go up to the door, ring the bell and then wait on the sidewalk or their driveway – wish them Happy Halloween when they open the door.
  • Plan a small get-together. Make sure kids are wearing masks and make sure to take frequent breaks to hand wash and sanitize.
  • Coordinate a neighborhood parade. This can be done by having each car, truck, bicycle, scooter or other vehicle “wear” a costume and/or have the kids walk (6 feet apart) to show off their costumes and pick up treats from neighbors’ driveways or at candy stations (small individual bags of candy in front of each house. Or have kids simply stand in front of their house to wave at passerby’s.
  • In high-risk cities and counties (check CDC website and local health organizations), host Zoom and Netflix parties (NOTE: Netflix has a free extension that allows you and your friends to watch a movie at the same time online).
  • Haunted houses will certainly look different this year, too. But drive thru, contact-free Halloween experiences are starting to make headlines. Search online for “haunted roads” or “drive thru haunted houses” to see if there is one near you!
  • The CDC suggests having a candy scavenger hunt in your home or outside in the yard. Here’s a downloadable Halloween scavenger hunt list geared to kids who need a more adventurous hunt (courtesy of USA Today).

The CDC created an interactive map on its website with color-coded risk levels for each county throughout the country.

There are four risk levels: green, yellow, orange, and red — with green representing the least amount of risk and red being the most. The colors are based on the current COVID-19 case and death count data. Check this map to see the risk level associated with where you live to help you determine the level of precautions you and your family should take this Halloween.

For more info:

  • Cdc.gov Webmd.com
  • Goodhousekeeping.com Realsimple.com

The Centers for Disease Control recently released

its assessment of Halloween safety from lower risk activities to highest risk activities.

We have provided this information below:

  • Carving or decorating pumpkins with members of your household and displaying them

Lower risk activities

  • 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

n 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 out doors 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 dangeous 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 appro- priate 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.

High risk activities

Avoid these higher risk activities to help prevent the spread of the virus that causes COVID-19:

  • Participating in traditional trick-or-treating where treats are handed to children who go door to door
  • Having trunk-or-treat where treats are handed out from trunks of cars lined up in large parking lots
  • Attending crowded costume parties held indoors
  • Going to an indoor haunted house where people may be crowded together and screaming
  • Going on hayrides or tractor rides with people who are not in your household
  • Using alcohol or drugs, which can cloud judgement and increase risky behaviors
  • Traveling to a rural fall festival that is not in your community if you live in an area with community spread of COVID-19
Posted in: Holiday Safety, Security General