By SMH Senior Digital Communications Specialist Ann Key
It's time to carve the pumpkin, pull out the costume and get the candy bowl ready! Halloween is almost here.
With the COVID-19 Delta surge waning and vaccines now widely available for people ages 12 and older, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has given the thumbs-up for trick-or-treating and outdoor Halloween celebrations this year.
While that’s welcome news, it’s still important for revelers of all ages to take precautions to limit COVID-19’s community spread and keep young trick-or-treaters safe, especially those who are not yet vaccinated.
And COVID-19 isn’t the only safety concern to keep in mind during the seasonal celebration: Children are twice as likely to be hit by a car and killed on Halloween than on any other day of the year.
That means pedestrians and drivers alike need to beware on All Hallows Eve.
Be sure your family’s holiday is filled with fun, not fright, with these COVID-19 prevention and safety tips from the CDC and the American Academy of Pediatrics and the SMH-Sarasota Trauma team.
Halloween & COVID-19
- If you’re sick, stay home. If your child isn’t feeling well, keep them home.
- Keep the fun outdoors. Avoid crowded or indoor events.
- Celebrate in small groups.
- Enjoy curbside, drive-through or contactless trick-or-treating. Skip going door-to-door this year.
- Hand out individual, pre-packaged treats or non-edible options.
- Pack the sanitizer, and remind kids to use it frequently. Wash hands as soon as you get home.
- Wear a face covering when in crowds or indoors.
- Keep a safe distance from other groups, when possible.
If you do opt to celebrate at an indoor public event like a haunted house, physical distancing and face coverings are still recommended for anyone age 2 or older, even if you’re vaccinated.
Tips for Drivers & Sugar-Fueled Pedestrians
- Remind trick-or-treaters to stick to well-lit streets, always use the sidewalks, and cross streets at corners using traffic signals and crosswalks. Be alert to cars that are turning or backing up.
- Drivers should be especially alert in residential areas. Children are excited — and fueled by sugar — and they’ll move in unpredictable ways. Drive slowly, and anticipate heavy foot traffic, especially from dusk to 9:30 p.m.
- Keep candy and wrappers away from pets. Chocolate can be deadly to animals, and they can choke on hard candies and wrappers. Store candy well out of your pet’s reach.
Best Dressed: Costume Safety
- Dark costumes make it hard for drivers to see trick-or-treaters at night. For added visibility, choose a bright or reflective costume; add reflective tape to treat bags or costumes, or have kids don glow sticks or glowing necklaces / bracelets.
- Costume masks or hats can make it hard to see, especially at night. Be sure a child’s costume doesn’t impact their vision, or use alternatives like non-toxic makeup and a properly sized hat.
- Shoes should fit well, and costumes should be short enough to prevent tired feet from tripping over them in a dash for treats.
A Healthy-er Halloween
- Enjoy a healthy meal before heading out for trick-or-treating to keep kids from filling up on too many Halloween treats.
- Rather than candy, consider distributing non-food treats such as stickers, pencils or small toys.
- Encourage kids to ration treats for the days and weeks following Halloween. Donate any extra, unwanted treats to a candy collection program such as the Soldier’s Angels Treats for Troops program or Operation Gratitude.
Sarasota Memorial Senior Digital Communications Specialist Ann Key manages the health system's Healthe-Matters blog and newsletter, as well as its social media and other wellness content channels. Have a health question or a wellness topic you'd like a local expert to weigh in on, let her know: Send an email to AskAnExpert@smh.com.