How to Have a Scary-Good Time: Halloween Safety Tips for an Unusual Year
For many kids, Halloween is the best time of year. The days leading up to October 31st are spent carving pumpkins, finding the perfect costume and counting down the days to trick or treating.
Amid all the excitement, parents need to determine how they can let their kids have fun, while ensuring they stay safe. This year, that includes taking extra precautions due to COVID-19.
The team at Cameron Pediatrics, Dr. Susan Frayer and Nurse Practitioner Lindsay Ellert, have tips and strategies on how to make the most of trick-or-treating during this unusual year.
Just like most activities, trick-or-treating may look different this year. We recommend not waiting until the last minute to discover what your community is doing. Check out local resource websites or news outlets for information about how trick-or-treating is being handled. Some towns are proceeding as usual and others are offering drive-through trick-or-treating or cancelling activities. Find out now so you can make alternate plans if necessary.
Dr. Frayer says every family needs to decide what they are comfortable doing in light of the pandemic. The CDC has a list of low, moderate and higher risk activities for Halloween that provides a good place to start your family discussion.
Special Rules for 2020
If you do decide to take part in trick-or-treating, stay safe. Dr. Frayer reminds everyone of the main rules to avoid COVID-19. “The best way to stay safe is wear a mask, social distance and wash your hands.” She recommends avoiding big crowds and staying outside. “We always recommend that children go to homes they know. This is even more important this year. By keeping the number of houses you visit low, you help lower your risk of being exposed to the virus, too.”
For people who are passing out candy, Dr. Frayer recommends avoiding contact with every child. She suggests putting out a bowl of candy that children can reach into on their own. Another good idea for a safe Halloween is to place individual pieces of wrapped candy on a table.
Both Dr. Frayer and Lindsey Ellert say that you should inspect the candy your children bring home. While the CDC says the virus cannot survive on food packages, you should look for any open wrappers or signs of tampering. They also both say to not let your children keep any unwrapped or homemade items.
Rules for Adults
When it comes to trick-or-treating, Dr. Frayer points out that it is up to adults to help keep kids safe. “The reality is, kids are kids,” she says. “Even when you tell them the rules, they get distracted by the excitement of Halloween. It’s up to the adults to keep them safe.”
The number one thing she recommends is for drivers to slow down and be extra cautious. She stresses the importance of taking it slow, especially in neighborhoods. “Every year we hear about some tragic situation. You don’t want to be a part of something like that. Kids will dart out between cars or run across a street without looking.” Other tips for drivers around Halloween include:
- Watch for children walking on roadways, medians and curbs
- Enter and exit driveways and alleys carefully
- At twilight and later in the evening, watch for children in dark clothing
- Discourage new, inexperienced drivers from driving on Halloween
NP Ellert says her number one rule for parents and other adults is to avoid distractions and really pay attention. “Be present. Put electronic devices including your phone away. When it comes to keeping kids safe, nothing beats active parental supervision.”
Tips for Older Kids
When it comes to trick-or-treating, you hear a lot of rules for younger children. But, Dr. Frayer points out that older children still take part. What’s more, they often go in groups of friends, without adult supervision. “We often focus on smaller kids, but older kids need their own set of rules when it comes to trick-or-treating. Especially because they are often out after dark.” She recommends the following tips for older children on Halloween:
- Make sure your child is part of a group
- Stress the importance of staying together, don not let someone go off on their own
- Give them at least one working flashlight
- Talk to them about what route to take and to keep to areas they’re familiar with
- Set a curfew
- Remind them not to eat their candy until they get home
Enjoy Sweet Treats
Whether your family goes trick-or-treating or finds other ways to celebrate Halloween, candy is sure to be part of the festivities. When asked about how much candy is okay for kids, Dr. Frayer laughs and reminds us that she’s a doctor, not a dentist. While she does say to not let kids eat all of their candy at once, she also reminds everyone to have fun. “Halloween is a fun time for kids. It’s fine to let them splurge now and then.”
Cameron Pediatrics Pumpkin Contest
One fun activity your family can take part in is Cameron Pediatrics first ever Pumpkin Contest. Each department has created a special pumpkin display. Everyone is invited to vote on their favorites. We hope it helps get your family in the Halloween spirit and provides some inspiration for your own decorations.
Reviewed by: Susan Frayer, MD, Cameron Pediatrics
Dr. Frayer is a double board-certified specialist in pediatrics and emergency medicine with more than 15 years of experience. She is now accepting new patients. To make an appointment, call Cameron Pediatrics at 260-667-5690 or schedule an appoint online.
Reviewed by: Lindsay Ellert, NP, Cameron Pediatrics
Lindsay Ellert, NP, is a board-certified pediatric nurse practitioner. She is now accepting new patients. To make an appointment, call Cameron Pediatrics at 260-667-5690 or schedule an appointment online.