Halloween 2021 COVID-19 Safety tips from a pediatrician

Thanks to vaccinations available for adults and kids ages 12 years and older, COVID-19 cases are on the decline. That means that Halloween this year looks more like Halloweens in the past: full of trick-or-treating, seeing friends and family, and delighting in spooky events.

Federal health officials have deemed trick-or-treating and participating in Halloween events low-risk this year, but it’s still important to exercise caution and stay vigilant about safety, says Dr. Marisa Turner, a pediatrician in the CHOC Primary Care Network.

Here, Dr. Turner offers tips to help families ensure that their Halloween is both safe and fun. Keep in mind that these recommendations are meant to supplement, rather than replace, any local or statewide rules and regulations.

Trick-or-treat outdoors

Rather than poorly ventilated indoor spaces, COVID-19 is much less likely to spread outdoors. To protect younger children who haven’t been able to receive the vaccine yet, staying outdoors is your best bet.

If trick-or-treating, have your kids travel in small groups. When combining different households, keep a bit of distance between groups for extra safety. Make sure that your children know to avoid large clusters of children waiting to receive their goodies at doorsteps.

Gather in small groups

Whether celebrating indoors or outdoors, it’s best to limit your gathering to a small group of vaccinated people. If all members of the family are vaccinated besides young children, you can visit with another household without masks. However, remember to take precautions like washing your hands and making sure you’re in a well-ventilated space.

Be careful at large events

With community events able to resume this year, outdoor events will always be safer than indoors. Rather than visiting an indoor, poorly ventilated haunted house, opt for an outside corn maze or haunted forest. Pumpkin patches can also be a fun way to celebrate; just sanitize your hands before and after picking your pumpkin.

If there is a large crowd at an outdoor event, keep a safe distance from others and wear a mask.

If your family plans to visit an indoor trick-or-treating or community event, wear a mask. Keep a safe distance from others and make sure to sanitize and wash your hands.

Wear a proper face mask

It’s important to know that a costume mask is not a substitute for a proper face covering that has multiple layers of breathable fabric or is a surgical-style mask. However, wearing a face mask underneath a costume mask could cause difficulty breathing.  

Instead, try to incorporate masks with your kids’ costumes. The mask could match the costume’s color or print, or kids can even get creative by making a mask to incorporate as part of their costume. Just be wary of painting masks for some paints may contain toxins.

Offer prepackaged goodies

If you are planning on handing out goodies at home, consider lining up prepackaged goodies on a table outside for children to easily grab and go to avoid long lines and clusters. Make sure to wash your hands before assembling the goodies. You could also opt for non-edible treats in consideration of kids with food allergies.

Other safety measures

In addition to COVID-19 safety measures, make sure to practice basic Halloween safety measures like ensuring that your children’s costumes fit properly to avoid tripping; ensuring that their costumes or treat bags are bright and reflective in some way; and double-checking that your child’s treats are properly sealed before enjoying.

Get ready for flu season with a visit to the pediatrician for the flu shot and wellness checks.