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Happy family mother father and children prepare for Halloween. They are carving pumpkin.

Halloween Alternatives to Keep Kids Safe During COVID-19

By Dr. Kristina Powell, Pediatric Associates of Williamsburg

Kids have already had a lot of fun trampled by COVID-19, and now the season of Halloween is upon us. Will that fall by the wayside, too?

Kids can still have Halloween fun, but this year’s version should be different to keep children safe from COVID-19 and other viruses.

The American Academy of Pediatrics and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are advising families to consider the risk level of various activities and plan a creative, but more subdued, holiday where kids can have fun and avoid viruses.

The Lower the Risk, the Better

Two low-risk ways to celebrate are to do it virtually with friends, or at home with members of your own household. Here are a few ideas:

  • Carve or decorate pumpkins with members of your household and display them. Young children can use markers, and adults can do the carving.
  • Carve or decorate pumpkins outside, at a safe distance, with neighbors or friends.
  • Decorate your house, apartment, or yard.
  • Have a Halloween scavenger hunt where children are given lists of Halloween-themed things to look for while they walk outdoors from house to house admiring Halloween decorations at a distance.
  • Hold a virtual Halloween costume contest.
  • Have a Halloween movie night with people who live in your home. Dress up like your favorite movie character. Invite friends to join virtually to show off their costumes, too.
  • Have a scavenger hunt trick-or-treat search with your household members in or around your home rather than going house to house.

Consider Your Surroundings, and Your Health

Other types of events should be evaluated for the risk of exposure. For instance, what is the level of COVID-19 where you live?

Meeting outdoors is safer than indoors, but children and adults should still maintain six feet of distance from others, wear cloth face coverings, and wash their hands frequently.

Look for community events focused on safe ways to have fun, such as programs offered by a park district, arboretum, pumpkin patch, zoo, or other outdoor venue in your area where you can stay six feet away from people outside your family.

Duration of the event is important, too. Gatherings that last a long time pose a greater risk, so put a time limit on the activity.

If children are outdoors, consider marking their costumes with reflective tape. Make sure that shoes fit well and that costumes are short enough to prevent tripping, entanglement, or contact with flame.

Remind everyone to wash their hands really well when they return home, and to carry hand sanitizer and extra face coverings.

Do not use a Halloween costume mask as a substitute for a face covering unless it is made of two or more layers of breathable fabric that covers your mouth and nose and doesn’t leave gaps around your face.

Also, don’t wear a costume mask over a cloth mask because it can be dangerous if the costume mask makes it hard to breathe. Instead, consider using a Halloween-themed cloth mask.

Avoid High-Risk Activities

Trick-or-treating from door to door is one of the highest risk activities you can do, along with going to a crowded indoor party. If you choose to trick-or-treat, maintain six feet of distance between yourself and others outside your household, and wear a mask. If you hand out candy, wear a mask, wash your hands, and consider setting up a table outside with pre-packaged goodies spaced apart on the table so children don’t have to cluster on your doorstep or reach into a bowl.

Another high-risk activity is an indoor haunted house where people are crowded together and screaming at the top of their lungs. Going on hayrides or tractor rides with people who are not in your household also carries a high risk of exposure.

Those activities should be avoided, especially for kids at increased risk for severe illness, or who live with someone who is especially vulnerable to the coronavirus.

Also, kids or adults with symptoms of COVID-19, who are waiting for viral test results, or who have been exposed to someone with COVID-19 in the last 14 days should not participate in activities where they’ll be near others.

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About CHKD Medical  Group Children’s Hospital of The King’s Daughters has been the region’s most trusted name in pediatric care for more than 50 years. As members of CHKD Health System, our pediatricians work closely with CHKD’s full range of pediatric specialists and surgeons. They also share a commitment to quality, excellence and child-centered care. With 18 practices in 29 locations throughout the region, a CHKD pediatrician is never far.