How to celebrate Halloween safely during COVID-19

As temperatures begin to cool and the community prepares for Halloween celebrations, CHOC Children’s experts provide the following recommendations for how to celebrate Halloween safely amid COVID-19.

“Celebrating holidays such as Halloween is a treasured part of childhood, and we want all children and families to make special memories together. It’s important to heed safety precautions and celebrate safely,” says Dr. Jasjit Singh, a pediatric infectious disease specialist at CHOC Children’s. “While many people feel restless after months of stay at home orders and life looking so much different than it used to, now is the time to be as vigilant as ever in curbing the spread of COVID-19.”

These recommendations are meant to supplement, rather than replace, any local or statewide rules and regulations.

Celebrate virtually

Use technology such as FaceTime, Zoom or Skype to enjoy festivities such as costume contests, pumpkin carvings or festive meals together.

Or, have a virtual, interactive watch party for your favorite Halloween movie using Netflix Party or Disney+’s GroupWatch. These services allow you to synchronize your show or movie with friends and family, and chat while you’re watching.

Celebrating virtually is especially important if you are celebrating with family members over the age of 65, or those who are immunocompromised and have underlying conditions that put them at greater risk of complications from COVID-19.

Festive outdoor celebrations

Carving or decorating pumpkins outside with neighbors, from a safe distance, is considered a low-risk activity by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Families could also consider organizing a Halloween scavenger hunt where kids can search for festive items as they walk from house to house, admiring decorations from a distance.

If you visit a pumpkin patch or apple orchard, ensure the location requires frequent hand-washing or hand sanitizer use, masks are required and social distancing is maintained.

Wear a mask

It’s important to remember that a Halloween costume mask is not a substitute for a proper face covering, says Dr. Belinda Dao, a CHOC Children’s pediatrician. “Masks that do not meet the stated criteria from the CDC are not appropriate face masks,” Dr. Dao says.

Pediatrician Dr. Marnie Granados adds, “protective masks should cover a child’s nose and mouth, be secure under their chin, and fit snugly against the sides of their face.”

Learn more about the important of wearing a proper face covering this Halloween.

Trick-or-treating

Per the CDC, a moderate-risk activity is a one-way trick-or-treating path where individually wrapped goodie bags are lined up at the end of driveways or sidewalks for kids to grab and go while maintaining social distancing.

Anyone preparing goodie bags should practice proper hand-washing before and after.

Activities to avoid this Halloween

Traditional trick-or-treating where treats are handed to children who go door to do is not recommended by the CDC, nor are trunk-or-treat events where treats are given to children from trunks of cars lined up in parking lots. These celebrations don’t allow for proper social distancing.

Likewise, indoor events such as costume parties and haunted houses are not recommended during COVID-19.

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Ten trick-or-treating safety tips

As your family prepares for the fun tradition of trick-or-treating, keep in mind these easy Halloween safety tips, from the CHOC Children’s community education team and Safe Kids Orange County, to ensure your celebration is filled with treats instead of tricks.

Above all, remember that the busiest trick-or-treating hours are in the evenings during rush hour, so use an abundance of caution in residential neighborhoods that will see heavy foot traffic. Children are excited on this day and can move in unpredictable ways, and are more than twice as likely to be hit by a vehicle and killed on Halloween as on any other day of the year.

Costume Safety

  • Planning a fun and creative costume can be one of the most exciting parts of Halloween for children. Wear costumes that are bright and reflective, or add reflective material to costumes and trick-or-treat bags for extra visibility. Make sure shoes fit well and costumes are an appropriate length to prevent tripping.
  • Masks can block eyesight, so consider non-toxic makeup and decorative hats to take your costume to the next level instead. Hats should fit properly and not slip down and cover the eyes.
  • Avoid decorative contact lenses without an eye examination and prescription from an eye care professional. Some packaging may claim this is unnecessary and they are a “one size fits all” product, these products can cause pain, inflammation and other serious eye disorders.

Ten Trick-or-Treating Safety Tips

Drive Safely

  • Drive with full headlights on in order to spot kids from as far away as possible.
  • Spend an extra moment at intersections to scan for kids who could be in medians or stepping off curbs. Use extra caution and drive slowly when entering or exiting driveways and alleyways.
  • Although you may see the children, keep in mind their costumes may unfortunately limit their visibility and they may not see you as well as you see them, or at all.
  • Never text or use your phone while driving.

Other Safety Reminders

  • Teach children how to call 9-1-1- in the event of an emergency or if they become lost.
  • Children and guardians should both carry flashlights and/or glow sticks to increase visibility.
  • Double-check the candy your child receives before they sample any treats. Ensure the items are properly sealed and there are no holes in the packaging.

Plus, incorporate your love for Choco Bear by using this specially designed pumpkin carving template!

Download Choco's pumpkin carving template

Choco Bear pumpkin carving template

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All Dressed Up For Halloween

Halloween is about a week away! Have your kids picked out their costumes? Before they head out in their cutest and spookiest attire, check out these costume safety tips recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics, to ensure your kids have an enjoyable Halloween.

• Plan costumes that are bright and reflective. Make sure that shoes fit well and that costumes are short enough to prevent tripping, entanglement or contact with flame.

• Consider adding reflective tape or striping to costumes and Trick-or-Treat bags for greater visibility.

• Because masks can limit or block eyesight, consider non-toxic makeup and decorative hats as safer alternatives.  Hats should fit properly to prevent them from sliding over eyes.

• When shopping for costumes, wigs and accessories look for and purchase those with a label clearly indicating they are flame resistant.

• If a sword or stick is a part of your child’s costume, make sure it is not sharp or too long. A child may be easily hurt by these accessories if he stumbles or trips.

• Obtain flashlights with fresh batteries for all children and their escorts.

• Do not use decorative contact lenses without an eye examination and a prescription from an eye care professional. While the packaging on decorative lenses will often make claims such as “one size fits all,” or “no need to see an eye specialist,” obtaining decorative contact lenses without a prescription is both dangerous and illegal. This can cause pain, inflammation, and serious eye disorders and infections, which may lead to permanent vision loss.

• Teach children how to call 9-1-1 if they have an emergency or become lost.

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Tips for Preventing Scary Tooth Decay this Halloween

Halloween sweets don’t have to wreck havoc on the teeth of your little trick-or-treaters.  Children can enjoy some Halloween candy and still avoid sugar-related tooth decay. The key to preventing tooth decay lies in limiting the amount of candy children eat, and reducing the time sugar remains in the mouth.

Brushing teeth as soon as possible after eating candy may keep harmful bacteria from developing.

Children and parents can take additional steps to protect their teeth:
• Parents should examine their children’s candy and remove anything they consider unacceptable before allowing their kids to eat it.
• Avoid candy that is too tacky or gummy, which can stick to teeth and cause decay.
• No matter what time of day children eat candy, they should remember to have good dental hygiene.
• Before Halloween rolls around, a dentist can put sealants into the grooves of children’s teeth to protect them against corrosion caused by too much sugar.   Ask your pediatric dentist if sealants would be good for your child.

For more information from the American Dental Association, visit http://www.ada.org/

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Keep Your Little Ghosts and Goblins Safe This Halloween

Halloween is just a few weeks away! Have you gotten your costumes? This is such a fun time of year, and to help ensure your kids have a safe holiday, please check out the tips below recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) and CHOC Children’s.
• Plan costumes that are bright and reflective. Make sure that shoes fit well and that costumes are short enough to prevent tripping, entanglement or contact with flame.

• Because masks can limit or block eyesight, consider non-toxic makeup and decorative hats as safer alternatives. Hats should fit properly to prevent them from sliding over eyes.

• If a sword, cane, or stick is a part of your child’s costume, make sure it’s not sharp or too long.

• Obtain flashlights with new batteries for all children and their escorts.

• Candlelit pumpkins should be placed on a sturdy table, away from curtains and other flammable objects, and should never be left unattended.

• To keep homes safe for visiting trick-or-treaters, parents should remove from the porch and front yard anything a child could trip over such as garden hoses, toys, bikes and lawn decorations.

• A parent or responsible adult should always accompany young children on their neighborhood rounds.

• If your older children are going alone, plan and review the route that is acceptable to you. Agree on a specific time when they should return home.

• Only go to homes with a porch light on and never enter a home or car for a treat.

• Remain on well-lit streets and always use the sidewalk.

• Never cut across yards, use alleys, or cross between parked cars.

• Wait until children are home to sort and check treats. An adult should closely examine all treats and throw away any spoiled, unwrapped or suspicious items.

For more Halloween safety tips, please click here:
http://www.aap.org/advocacy/releases/octhalloween.cfm

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