Halloween Safety Tips for Trick-or-Treaters and Haunted House Goers

Halloween Safety Tips for Trick-or-Treaters and Haunted House Goers
  • Dr. Taylor Wallace
  • October 9, 2020

Pumpkins, witches, ghouls, ghosts, goblins, and now the coronavirus pandemic make for an extra scary holiday.  Halloween will look different this year, but it can still be fun and enjoyable if you plan ahead for a safe holiday.

A recent Harris poll survey suggests that more than 74% of millennial moms are planning to make the most of Halloween.  In fact, 80% of all surveyed saying that trick-or-treating is at the top of their list of things to do on Halloween.  Socially distanced outdoor haunted houses and small Halloween parties also top the list of ways Americans plan to celebrate in 2020.

Is Trick-Or-Treating in 2020 Safe?

Safety guidelines from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) discourage Americans from partaking in traditional trick-or-treating, as it may be a risky tradition during the novel coronavirus pandemic.  The most significant risk is coming into close contact with those who don’t live in your home.  Surfaces are not a main mode of coronavirus transmission but it’s important for kids not to go digging around in candy bowls.  Candy chutes are becoming viral online, available on Amazon, and simple set up.  The long tube running the length of the railing on your front porch is meant to deliver candy straight from the homeowner to trick-or-treater at a 6+ foot distance.  A small sign at the bottom of the tube will guide trick-or-treaters where to hold their bag. 

Keep in mind that even though coronaviruses aren’t easily spread through surfaces, it’s important to wash your hands with soap and water before preparing candy bags.  Make sure to provide individually wrapped candy. As fun as homemade treats are, it’s not the year to give them out.  Wash your hands frequently and wear a cloth mask while giving out candy.

Parents – Bring hand sanitizer for the kids if you are partaking in trick-or-treat.  Do not travel to other neighborhoods.  Always have your family wear a mask at all times.  Wait until other kids leave the door before approaching.  A costume mask does not substitute for a cloth mask.  Throw away candy that is not individually wrapped and try to encourage your kids to hold off on eating candy until you get home.  It’s true that SARS-CoV-2 particles can last up to 72 hours on plastic surfaces, but this discovery was made in a laboratory setting and most Halloween candy holds less surface area to harbor germs. CDC says food packaging is safe and low risk when it comes to COVID-19.  Disinfecting each candy wrapper may be a bit over the top but you can purchase some candy for the evening and then wait 3-days before letting your child consume the collected candy.

The National Confectioners Association and candy manufacturers in the U.S. have provided more safety tips and creative ideas for celebrations on their #HALLOWEENISHAPPENING website (click here).

What About Haunted Houses?

If you are itching to attend a haunted house it’s important to remain distant from others and wear a cloth mask at all times.  Only attend outdoor, open-air, one-way, walk-through haunted forests.  Greater distances (6+ feet) lower the risk of spreading a respiratory virus through small droplets from screaming.  CDC lists outdoor haunted houses as a “moderate risk” activity.  Drive through haunted houses are becoming popular around the country as an alternative option.

Assess your risk.  If you have risk factors (e.g., obese, hypertension, diabetes, etc) or are over 65 years old… its better save the activity for next year.  

The Absolute Do Not’s

CDC breaks down certain activities that carry a higher risk than other socially-distanced options:

  1. Participating in traditional trick-or-treating where treats are handed to children who go door to door.
  2. Having trunk-or-treat where treats are handed out from trunks of cars lined up in parking lots.
  3. Attending crowded costume parties held indoors.
  4. Going to an indoor haunted house where people may be crowded together and screaming.
  5. Going on hayrides or tractor rides with people who are not in your household.
  6. Traveling to a rural fall festival that is not in your community if you live in an area with community spread of COVID-19.

Enjoy Halloween safely!

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