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BIRMINGHAM – With ghosts, ghouls and goblins, Halloween is the scariest of all holidays. But that doesn’t mean it has to be dangerous. By following the advice of doctors and safety experts, you can avoid COVID-19 and injuries while enjoying all the horrifying holiday fun.
Like last year, Halloween will be a little different due to the COVID-19 pandemic. You’ll need to follow certain safety precautions if you plan to participate in any festivities. Dr. Gigi Youngblood, who sees patients at Pediatrics East, says parents may need to be more involved now than they were before the pandemic to ensure that children are following COVID-19 precautions during Halloween activities.
“Parents will need to be very hands-on this year, even with older kids who might usually go trick-or-treating on their own,” she said. “We will need to supervise our kids to make sure they are being good neighbors, waiting their turn to approach the treats, hand-sanitizing between houses and keeping their masks on.”
Some trick-or-treaters like to enjoy their candy as they move around the neighborhood. If your child is one of those, Youngblood says you should make sure they are using excellent hand hygiene, sanitizing their hands between each house. When they return home, make sure they wash their hands thoroughly with soap and warm water for at least 20 seconds.
People handing out treats also will need to be careful. Youngblood says spreading out treats at the end of a driveway or the edge of a yard can help prevent trick-or-treaters from clustering around a bowl or doorway. She recommends washing or sanitizing your hands as you replenish the treats.
It’s also wise to get vaccinated before Halloween, especially now that COVID vaccines are widely available for adults and children over 12.
“Ensuring all eligible family members are vaccinated can make your Halloween festivities far safer this year,” Youngblood said.
HALLOWEEN INJURY PREVENTION
Injuries can also be a Halloween hazard. Julie Farmer, state chapter director of Think First Alabama, says kids are twice as likely to be hit by a car that night as any other night of the year.
“We really want parents to take their time to not be distracted,” she said. “That is definitely a time for them to put down their phone and attend to driving and to drive much slower, because kids are excited, and they are going to dart into the road.”
Trick-or-treaters should also be alert. Marie Crew, director of the Children’s of Alabama Health Education and Safety Center, says it’s wise to cross streets at corners, using traffic signals and crosswalks. She says you should look left, then right, then left again before crossing and keep looking as you cross. Where possible, use sidewalks or paths. If they’re not available, you should walk facing traffic as far to the left as possible.
Farmer also advises parents to have their children wear reflectors when trick-or-treating so drivers can easily spot them in the dark. For a look at the various types of reflectors, check out the video below.
When selecting a costume, it’s important to make sure it fits properly. Crew says this will help prevent trips and falls.
Costumes cannot, however, prevent the spread of COVID-19, even if they include masks.
“We need to use our typical, well-fitted, cloth masks to ensure the droplets coming from our mouths and noses are contained,” Youngblood said.
OTHER HALLOWEEN ADVICE
If you’ve been exposed to COVID-19 in the last 14 days, you should avoid all in-person activities. Visit the American Academy of Pediatrics, Centers for Disease Control and Safe Kids Worldwide for additional Halloween safety tips.
Since 1911, Children’s of Alabama has provided specialized medical care for ill and injured children, offering inpatient, outpatient and primary care throughout central Alabama. Ranked among the best children’s hospitals in the nation by U.S. News & World Report, Children’s serves patients from every county in Alabama and nearly every state. Children’s is a private, not-for-profit medical center that serves as the teaching hospital for the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) pediatric medicine, surgery, psychiatry, research and residency programs. The medical staff consists of UAB faculty and Children’s full-time physicians as well as private practicing community physicians.