By Catherine Powell
With Halloween just around the corner, I thought I’d take the time to cover ten ways you can keep you and yours safe while trick or treating. While Halloween is supposed to be scary, the advent of COVID-19 has made the holiday more frightening than usual. Since no children below the age of 12 have been inoculated, and not all older kids and adults have either, this year’s Halloween events need to be scrutinized like never before.
1. Can COVID
contaminate candy? – Researchers
who tested candies that had been coughed on by patients with COVID-19 reported
that 60% of candies handled with unwashed hands were able to pass the contagion
along, while only 10% of those whose hands were washed were able to transmit the
Coronavirus. Additionally, washing
wrapped candy for one minute in dish detergent reduced the viral RNA load by
90%. However, it was also noted that the
main route of transmission was by airborne droplets. This means while you can wash the candy your
kids bring home along with their hands to reduce the incidence of infection,
the best way to keep your children pathogen free while trick or treating is to
have them wear a surgical mask under their Halloween mask.
2. What’s the best
way to hand out candy this year? – Even if you are fully vaccinated, it’s
recommended that you wear a surgical mask if you intend to hand out candy this
year. It’s also recommended to use tongs
to hand out candy, as opposed to letting trick or treaters reach into the candy
bowl, since this will reduce the spread of pathogens. Several enterprising souls have even created
a candy chute that can be attached to the railing to dispense candy to trick or
treaters from a distance. (check out the video link) The use of tongs, a long-handled
grabber or a candy chute to pass out treats helps maintain safe social
distancing that keeps both the kids and you safe from picking up or passing on
3. How safe are
– Any place that kids congregate in large groups is a bad idea. Better to keep the crowd to a minimum at this
year’s Halloween party. Better still would
be to stage a trunk or treat event where parents drive their children to an
area that friends and neighbors out treats while maintaining safe social
distancing of 6-feet or more between vehicles.
These kinds of events also give parents a chance to get in on the act,
since it’s common for trunk or treat participants to deck out their vehicles
and dress in costume along with the trick or treaters.
4. Safe alternative to traditional trick or
treating. – If the thought of letting your children roam around outside
this year terrifies you more than ghouls and goblins, a 100% safe alternative is
to turn your home into a spooky setting where you hide candy to let your little
ones trawl for goodies like a spooky version of an Easter egg hunt.
5. How safe are
traditional Halloween masks? – Not very. While Halloween masks cover a child’s face,
they don’t filter out the kind of exhaled droplets that can carry COVID-19. That doesn’t mean kids can’t wear Halloween
masks. You just have to make sure they
wear a protective face covering either above or below them. Another option is to buy Halloween masks that
have been designed to be both decorative and protective. Just make sure any protective mask you put on
your kids feature at least two layers and fit over the mouth and nose.
6. How to keep your
kids safe when they trick or treat. – A couple of additional ways to keep
your children safe on Halloween this year is have them to avoid ringing the
doorbell and to limit the number of friends they trick or treat with. It’s also advised that you wash their hands
before and after going trick or treating and carry hand sanitizer to use for
situations where adults passing out candy aren’t keeping their safety in mind
by allowing everyone to dip into the candy bowl.
7. Make sure your children are highly visible when trick or treating. – While keeping your kids COVID-free is important, so is their safety on the street. Since trick or treat takes place after dark, make sure you equip your little trick or treaters with flashlights or glowsticks that motorists can see from a distance. It also wouldn’t be a bad idea to attach a few reflective strips to their costumes that fluoresce when hit by the lights of any approaching vehicle.
8. Brief your children
on the dos and don’ts of safe trick or treating. – Even if you
accompany your kids while they trick or treat, all it takes is one moment for a
child to dart into the street, trip over a curb or fall down on the
sidewalk. Remember, facemasks not only
camouflage the wearers’ identity, they also limit visibility. While you want your kids to have a good time this
Halloween, make sure they know how to trick or treat safely. You also need to instruct them not to eat any
of the candy they collect until they return home, so you can have a chance to
inspect and disinfect it.
9. Make sure you
exercise extra caution if you drive on Halloween. – Whether you
intend to go out for the evening or take your children to a Halloween event,
make doubly sure you drive extra slow while keeping your eyes open for kids in
costume who may suddenly dart out into traffic.
10. A few final tips
to keep your children safe this Halloween. – Pin a piece of paper with your
child’s name, address and your phone number in case they get separated from
you. Limit the amount of props they
carry to a minimum, since these can cause accidental injury if a trick or falls
on them. Make sure your children’s
costumes don’t dangle past their ankles, since this is another cause of trip
and fall accidents. Last but not least,
bring bottled water so you and your kids can stay hydrated while you roam the
Catherine Powell is owner of A Plus All Florida Insurance in Orange Park, Florida. To find out more ways to protect you and yours on the water, check out her website at http://aplusallfloridainsurance.com/