The pandemic is changing the way we celebrate Halloween this year. Findings from a recent nationally representative survey found that 70% of moms are planning to celebrate Halloween with their children. And, a Harris poll found that “74% of millennial moms and young parents say that Halloween is more important than ever this year.”
Unfortunately, the traditional way of trick-or-treating is not recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) this year. So, the physicians on the Doximity network developed guidelines to allow everyone to safely celebrate their favorite spooky holiday while minimizing the risk of being exposed to or spreading the virus.
Safety guidelines for Halloween 2020
Here are the ten safety guidelines to follow as you make your Halloween plans this year
1. Keep your distance:
First and foremost, keep your distance. This may be an obvious safety tip but it is the most important.
When we get excited, we often neglect this essential rule. This is particularly true for young children.
Make sure they don’t get too caught up in the moment. And, remind others to stay at least six feet away from anyone who is not in your household when engaging in Halloween fun.
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2. Make it local, Keep it small
Traveling for Halloween activities is not recommended this year. It’s best to stick to festivities in your neighborhood or walking distance from your home.
Keep the number of people in this year’s “Halloween team” small. And limit it to only those who live with you.
Consider a family-focused alternative like a candy scavenger hunt in your yard or a scary movie night.
3. Your costume mask is NOT a substitute for a cloth mask
A costume mask is not a proper substitute for a cloth mask when it comes to protecting yourself and others against the spread of COVID-19. Protective masks should have the following characteristics:
- It’s made of two or more layers of fabric
- It adequately covers both the mouth and nose
- There are no gaps when it’s fitted around the face.
This year opt for a costume that incorporates a cloth mask as part of the ensemble. Safety first!
4. Wash your hands consistently
Whatever your plans are, be sure to have a travel-sized hand sanitizer with you that has at least 60% alcohol.
Remember to sanitize hands between houses if you come into contact with anything other than your own candy bag.
Once you and your household members get home from your festivities, be sure everyone washes their hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds before you consume any treats.
5. Offer COVID-friendly candy bags
If your household plans to give out candy this year, pre-pack individual treat bags for young children to “grab-n-go” outside your door.
If you still want to enjoy visitors stopping by, use a long-handled grabber tool to pass candy while staying socially distant.
6. Don’t share props, toys, or candy
Times have changed and sharing with others is “not caring” this year. Keep costume props like swords, hats, wigs, and wands from being passed around.
Ask each child to hold onto their own candy bags and to not share or trade candy with others. Hopefully, this new safety rule won’t upset too many kids.
7. Don’t wear gloves and avoid touching your face
Gloves tend to give us a false sense of security. More often than not, when we wear gloves while we’re out and about, we rarely change them. This defeats the purpose of wearing them in the first place.
Avoid wearing gloves altogether and opt for sanitizing your hands often. Since the virus is transmitted through mucous membranes in the mouth, nose, and eyes, try to avoid touching your face.
8. Avoid high fraffic areas
This is one of the bigger concerns we’re seeing discussed among doctors on our network. When it comes to COVID-19, you put yourself and loved ones at a higher risk when entering large crowds of strangers outside your household.
Avoid waiting in long lines for candy and bypass any gatherings you see on sidewalks or streets.
9. Communicate to children in advance
Set expectations with your kids early on. Thankfully, Halloween isn’t canceled but it will be different. And, there are important rules we need to consider in order to keep everyone safe.
Write down and walk through your rules the night before so they know what to expect, as well as what is expected of them. This will help ensure everyone is on the same page.
10. For those who are high-risk, make Halloween fun at home
Traditional Halloween activities are always fun. But if you or your children are considered high-risk for contracting COVID-19, host a safe celebration at home.
There are plenty of fun alternative ways to get in the Halloween spirit, including:
- Host a social-distant pumpkin carving contest at home or in your yard.
- Enjoy decorating your home for Halloween with other household members.
- Plan a “spooky” candy scavenger hunt with candy hidden throughout your home.
- Get out the popcorn (or candy corn) and turn on your favorite Halloween thrillers.
- Stay safe in your car while driving around town to see all of the elaborate Halloween decorations.
The bottom line when it comes to Halloween 2020
While many communities offer guidelines for trick-or-treating and festivities, it’s important for families to navigate Halloween based on their own risk factors and concerns.
Remember, Halloween should be spooky, not scary, so share these tips with your patients to ensure they have a safe, fun-filled holiday.
Peter Alperin, M.D.
Peter Alperin, MD is Vice President of Product at Doximity, the largest professional medical network with over 70% of all U.S. physicians as members, where he leads the development of products geared towards clinicians.
He has also led product development at digital healthcare companies like Archimedes, a healthcare analytics firm, and ePocrates, today’s most widely-used formulary tool used by physicians.
Dr. Alperin has also served as Vice President of Informatics at Brown and Toland Medical Group, where he led the build-out and implementation of the EHR system for a medical group of 1,500+ physicians.
Dr. Alperin remains active as a staff physician at the San Francisco VA, as well as an internal medicine physician in his own private practice in San Francisco, California.