Halloween is a time of year that many people–adults and children alike–look forward to. It’s an exciting time of year with lots of fun things to do, from Halloween parties to haunted houses to trick-or-treating. However, it’s also a dangerous time of year.
What Makes Halloween Dangerous?
It’s hard to think of one of your favorite holidays as dangerous, but that is the unfortunate reality of Halloween. Hoards of children out walking the streets, typically at dusk or after dark, is a tricky situation. To make matters worse, these children often wear costumes that make them less visible to drivers on the road or poorly fitted masks that impede their vision. As a result, children are twice as likely to be hit by a car on Halloween than at other times of the year. Then there is the added danger associated with participating in Halloween activities like costume parties or trick-or-treating during the COVID pandemic. All of this may make some people feel like abandoning Halloween entirely, but that is not necessary. There are many ways that families and neighbors can celebrate Halloween and stay safe this year:
General Safety Guidelines for Trick or Treating
As a homeowner who may be handing out candy on Halloween, following these suggestions will keep your property safe for trick or treaters:
- ensure that your lawn is free of tripping hazards like hoses, lawn decorations, or toys
- make sure that any lighting you have along the path leading to your front door is in good working condition so that children have full visibility,
- clear any paths of leaves, snow, or ice to prevent slipping.
If you are the parent of a trick-or-treater, you can follow these tips to keep your child safe:
- Choose costumes that are visible, the brighter the better. If your child’s costume is dark, add reflective tape or LED lights to make your child more visible to drivers.
- Avoid costumes that involve masks or eyewear as they may limit your child’s field of vision.
- Be sure that shoes and costumes fit well to avoid tripping.
- If a costume involves a sword or weapon of any kind, be sure that it isn’t dangerous. Anything that is sharp or functional as a weapon in any way should be discarded.
- Lastly, it’s a good idea for everyone in your group to carry flashlights or lanterns if you are going to be out after dark.
While trick-or-treating, be sure to:
- stay on the sidewalks,
- stick to well-lit streets,
- only cross the road at crosswalks,
- carry a cellphone in case of emergency, and
- remind children to stay together and not wander off on their own.
Tips for COVID Free Trick or Treating
All of the above safety tips are great for a normal Halloween year, but COVID makes things a bit different. As a whole, the CDC does not recommend trick-or-treating and considers it to be a high-risk activity. However, there are steps you can take to make trick-or-treating safer. Most importantly, everyone in your group should be wearing a mask that covers their mouth and nose (a Halloween mask does not count). There are plenty of fun ways to decorate your mask so that it looks festive, or your child can dress up as a nurse or doctor where a mask will make their costume look awesome! Trick-or-treat in small family units and stay socially distant from other groups. Use hand sanitizer while trick-or-treating and have your children wash their hands thoroughly when you return home. And finally, limit your trick-or-treating to homes you know.
If you are going to be giving out candy, avoid having a big bowl of candy that trick or treaters all put their hands into. The CDC recommends that you place individual candy bags on a table outside or at the end of your driveway to limit contact. You can also come up with a creative way to hand out candy from a distance. Some resourceful families are building Halloween candy chutes or rope and pulley systems to hand out treats while staying socially distant.
Other Creative Ways to Celebrate Halloween During COVID
The safest solution to trick-or-treating during COVID is to skip trick-or-treating completely. There are plenty of other Halloween activities available that are just as fun and significantly safer. Below are some creative ideas for a COVID free Halloween:
- Have a scary movie night at home with popcorn and candy.
- Head to a drive-in movie theater that is showing Halloween movies.
- Have an at-home costume party for your kids and give them a treat bag filled with their favorite candy.
- Invite a couple of friends over and socially distance outdoors while you carve pumpkins.
- Organize an outdoor, socially distanced costume parade for your neighborhood.
- Spend an afternoon at an orchard or pumpkin patch.
- Find a drive-through haunted house and prepare to be scared.
- Hide Halloween candy around your house and have a spooky scavenger hunt.
- Decorate your yard to the max and hide glow-in-the-dark Halloween eggs filled with treats for your kids to find.
- Look for lists of the most decorated Halloween houses in your town and take a drive to see them all.
While this year may be different than most, it doesn’t mean that we can’t still have fun and make wonderful memories with each other while still ensuring that those we love are safe and healthy. If we all follow these tips for staying safe, we’re sure to have a spooktacular Halloween!