It’s not too early to start thinking about Halloween! With the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, handing out candy to cute trick-or-treaters won’t look exactly the same as it always has. Behavioral health experts at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital offered a few tips to keep everyone safe on Halloween this year.
Dustin Webb, administrator at Texas Health, said deciding whether a child will go trick-or-treating this year is a personal decision after parents weigh the pros and cons.
“With kids, it’s usually good to do hypothetical role playing ahead of time,” Webb said, in a recent press release. “You say, ‘Every year we go trick-or-treating and this is how it goes. This year, because of the pandemic, we’re going to go but it’s going to be different and here’s what it’s going to look like.’ This way you’re not just talking about a behavior that you want them to have, but you’re practicing it with them without introducing why they need to be anxious about it.
Demi Smoczkiewicz, an infection preventionist at Texas Health, offered the following safety precautions:
Stay Home if You’re Sick
If you’re not feeling well, don’t risk it and stay at home. While the most common symptoms of COVID is fever, cough and shortness of breath, Demi cautions, “If you’re feeling ill in any way, it’s just best to stay home and avoid the social activities.”
Wear a Mask
Regardless of your costume, make sure it includes a mask this year if you’re going to be trick-or-treating or around people who are not part of your household. Consider adding fun or spooky embellishments to it so that the mask feels more like part of your costume. And if you’re handing out candy, wear a mask. Also, be sure to refrain from letting children reach into the candy bowl.
Maintain Safe Distancing
Avoid clustering and grouping with multiple individuals from different households like at parties. If your home is known to draw large numbers of trick-or-treaters, consider putting masking tape or adhering footprint cut-outs on the sidewalk in six-foot intervals to visually help children maintain their distance as they wait in line to the front door.
Practice Hand Hygiene
Take hand sanitizer along with you and frequently clean your hands. When you arrive home, thoroughly wash your hands for at least 20 seconds with soap and water before you or your children begin to sample your haul. You can wipe down candy packaging as an extra precaution if desired but the risk of getting COVID-19 from food or food packaging is very low, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Of course, you can always opt to avoid trick-or-treating this year, and instead, watch a scary movie together, carve pumpkins or bake a delicious fall treat.