For families fully vaccinated against COVID-19, the risk of being exposed to the virus during Halloween festivities may not be as scary as last year. But as COVID continues to spread, it's still important to help keep trick-or-treating and other Halloween traditions safe—especially if your kids aren't
eligible for vaccines yet.
Try to stick with outdoor trick-or-treating in small groups. The virus is much less likely to spread outside than in poorly ventilated indoor spaces. Keeping a safe distance from others outside your household is another good way to reduce risk. Make sure your children know to avoid large groups of kids clustering at doorsteps or anywhere else the goodies are being handed out.
If you give out treats, consider sitting outside and lining up individually prepackaged goodies on a table for children to take. Non-edible treats are a good option, especially for children who suffer from
Don't forget other Halloween safety basics for outdoor trick-or-treating. If your kids will be out after dark, mark their costumes with reflective tape. Remind them to be careful around cars, as drivers may not see them. Also, make sure shoes fit well and costumes are short enough to prevent tripping or contact with flames.
Mask up indoors
If your children do attend an indoor trick-or-treat event or public festivities, be sure everyone wears face masks and observes safe physical distancing. Universal masking indoors continues to be important, since children under 12 years old are not yet eligible for COVID-19 vaccines. There may be a mix of vaccinated and unvaccinated children, teens, and adults at these events, and mask use reduces the risk of transmission of the COVID virus.
When children get home with their haul, remind them to wash their hands before eating any treats.
Costume parties, parades & community events
Again, remember that outdoor parades, parties and attractions are safer than indoor public events. Rather than a haunted house, for example, consider a haunted forest or corn maze. Look for programs focused on safe ways to have fun offered by a park district, arboretum, zoo or other
outdoor venues in your area. Pumpkin patches and apple orchards are other good options. Just use
hand sanitizer before and after touching what you pick.
For any indoor festivities, including events at school, make sure everyone wears face masks. This is important regardless of vaccination status for now.
Making masks part of the costume
Encourage your kids to use their face masks as part of their cos tume (think surgeon or superhero!). However, be wary of painting the masks, since some paints contain toxins. And keep in mind that a costume mask is not a substit ute for a mask that has multiple layers of breathable fabric, or a disposable surgical-style mask, that covers the mouth and nose snugly. Also, do not wear a costume mask over a COVID face mask, because it can make breathing more difficult.
Don't forget that some of the most memorable, and safest Halloween memories can be made at home together as a family. For example:
- Pumpkin decorating. This is one Halloween tradition that's as safe and fun as ever. As always, just be careful to avoid pumpkin carving injuries. Children can draw a face with markers. Then parents can do the cutting. When the carving is done, consider putting a battery-operated light rather than an open-flame candle inside. Roast the
seeds from the pumpkin for a healthy snack!
- Costumed movie night. Especially if you have young children, considering a movie night dressed as favorite characters. For tips on finding age-appropriate movies for your child, read more
- Halloween-themed treats. Make some fun Halloween treats as a family. Decorate a pizza with toppings in the shape of a jack-o'-lantern, for example, or make tangerine pumpkins (peel the tangerine and stick a thin slice of celery on top to look like a stem). Make sure the treats are not
choking hazards if you have children under 3 years old.
- A scavenger "haunt" (hunt) for Halloween treats in your home or yard can be fun for the whole family. Add a spooky element by turning out the lights and using flashlights to for the hunt.
More than a year and a half into the pandemic, COVID-19 may seem like a horror movie monster that won't go away. But as adults continue to get the vaccine, and more children become eligible for them, there's more hope than ever that communities can return to normal. In the meantime, with some common-sense safety steps, there are still plenty of ways to have some Halloween fun.