How to keep kids safe trick-or-treating

Press file photo

Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, officials say it’s safe to trick-or-treat this Halloween as long as parents take safety measures.

Federal and state health officials have said that trick-or-treating is safe this Halloween -- but with certain recommended safety precautions.

Experts at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) say the streets will be full of costumed youth on the prowl for candy.

Trick-or-treaters should take some precautions, even for outdoor trick-or-treating, such as physical distancing and traveling in small groups, according to a Kaiser Permanente press release and the federal health officials..

“For families fully vaccinated against COVID-19, the risk of being exposed is minimal,” the press release stated. “However, it’s still important to take precautions, especially to protect those under 12, who are not yet eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine.”

Among the precautions listed were avoiding direct contact with other trick-or-treaters and those handing out candy, and carrying hand sanitizer to clean hands often. The press release also had some specific instructions on face masks.

“Make sure your child wears a COVID face mask that is not part of his/her costume. A costume mask should not replace a cloth mask. Wearing a costume mask over a cloth mask can also make it more difficult to breathe and is not recommended.”

Families not comfortable with trick-or-treating can host their own pumpkin carving contest, a costumed movie night, or have a Halloween scavenger hunt in their own backyards.

Local pediatrician Dr. Lisa Rood at John Muir Health’s Brentwood Outpatient Center agrees that outdoor trick-or-treating is a fun, safe way to celebrate Halloween this year, “especially if you do so outside where COVID-19 is less likely to spread than in poorly ventilated indoor spaces.”

Rood also said families should remember other safety tips.

“These include adding reflective tape to costumes or carrying a flashlight, being careful crossing streets and wearing shoes that fit well and costumes that are short enough to prevent tripping,” said Rood. “Lastly, before enjoying their first piece of candy, kids should wash their hands.”

In addition to practical safety concerns, experts nationwide are also concerned about the mental health of kids this year. After spending much of the past year communicating via Zoom instead of in person and missing out on many celebrations and rites of passage, this fall is a good opportunity to give kids a sense of normalcy.

“Traditions are very important to the mental health of kids,” Rood said. “During the past 20 months, they’ve had to miss out on or adjust to new ways of doing things that we previously took for granted. We want to help kids get back to normal as much as possible and to do so safely. Families should embrace the holiday season and look for activities they can do together, whether that’s following old traditions or creating new ones.”