TAMPA, Fla. — COVID-19 has changed the way we've celebrated so many holidays this year and Halloween is no different.
The Centers for Disease Control considers traditional trick-or-treating, large indoor costume parties and indoor haunted houses high-risk activities for exposure to COVID-19. Just because the CDC recommends you not do those things doesn't mean you have to cancel the holiday altogether.
"You don't have to cancel it. There's so many ways to still celebrate while being safe, just get creative," said Michelle Sterling, St. Joseph’s Children’s Wellness and Safety Specialist.
Here are some alternative ideas Sterling suggested:
- Go all out with decorations this year. Decorate inside as well as outside your home and get your kids involved with the crafts.
- DIY: A lot of stores are selling Halloween-themed activity kits, ranging from art projects to spooky treat creations
- Organize a socially distant costume parade. There's no reason not to share your costume with neighbors, friends and family. You can arrange a parade in your neighborhood, making sure you're wearing the proper personal protective equipment and socially distant.
- Host a virtual Halloween party with family and friends to show off your costumes
- Host an outdoor spooky movie night. Set up a projector in your lawn or driveway and invite friends to a socially distant movie showing, complete with the popcorn (in individual servings!)
- Take a cue from Easter and plan a candy hunt or a scavenger hunt. Hide candy around your home or in your yard for your kids to find.
- Recreate the trick-or-treating experience indoors. Have members of your "bubble" (people you have been in contact with and trust they have not had any exposure to COVID-19) stationed behind different doors in your home and have your children go door to door inside
If you do plan to welcome trick-or-treaters to your home, place the candy outside on a table for a contactless handoff. If you're taking your kids trick or treating, take them only to homes of the people you know. Make sure you're using hand sanitizer while out and washing hands with warm soapy water for at least 20 seconds when possible.
Look through all candy to make sure it's fully sealed before letting your kids dig in. You may disinfect the outside packaging if it makes you feel comfortable, but make sure it's food safe and wash your hands between opening the packaging and eating the candy.
When it comes to the costumes, you need to make sure they're safe too.
If you plan to be outside when it's dark, make sure kids are visible by giving them glowsticks, flashlights or reflective tape to put on their treat bags or onto their clothing
- Avoid baggy clothing and flowing cloaks. These can become tripping hazards or catch fire near an open flame
- Don't use a decorative costume mask as a replacement for a protective face covering. "Use animal print masks for an animal-themed costume, maybe camo or plain white or a solid color. You can decorate the mask to match the costume," said Sterling.
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