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Sharp Health News

Should my kids go trick-or-treating this year?

Sept. 30, 2020

Halloween pumpkin with a medical mask
Autumn is here, kicking off the holiday season with Halloween and its main event: trick-or-treating. However, this year, some families may be wondering whether it’s safe to visit houses and gather treats.

“Halloween traditionally involves many people dipping hands in a common candy pot, which is a perfect recipe for further spread of COVID-19,” says Dr. Chitra Safaya, an infectious disease specialist affiliated with Sharp Grossmont Hospital. “Therefore, I would not recommend conventional trick-or-treating this year.”

Children and teens going from residence to residence, as well as anyone who hands out treats, are at risk for spreading the coronavirus. But there are different ways to safely celebrate the spookiest time of year.

5 ways to celebrate Halloween without trick-or-treating
“There are many great ideas floating around the internet for alternative Halloween celebrations this year,” says Dr. Safaya. Here are a few suggestions:

  1. Host a virtual pumpkin-carving party or mask-decorating contest.
  2. Have a home scavenger hunt by hiding Halloween candy around the house for children to find.
  3. Decorate a Halloween-themed holiday tree.
  4. Watch scary movies on a projector outdoors with family.
  5. Get creative by making Halloween house décor and baking treats with kids.
For those who still prefer to incorporate some form of trick-or-treating into their Halloween festivities, Dr. Safaya offers some safe ways to do so.

Drive-by candy distribution
“Since drive-by birthday parties are becoming a norm now, an option might be drive-by trick-or-treating. Families and kids do a drive-by parade or decorate their wagons or bicycles and parade around the neighborhood,” says Dr. Safaya. “If you plan to give out candy, consider putting the candy in individually sealed plastic sandwich bags and placing them, along with hand sanitizer, at the end of a driveway or walkway for trick-or-treaters. This way, the more vulnerable, high-risk population is still able to give out treats and enjoy seeing trick-or-treaters at a safe distance from their door or window.”

Visiting houses in your ‘bubble’
Staying within your “social bubble” when celebrating may also be considered. A social bubble is when you only socialize with a small, limited number of people. This method may help reduce the risk of exposure to the coronavirus.

“Families can limit their trick-or-treating to their social bubble, and set up an outdoor area, such as at a park, where they can meet and trick-or-treat,” says Dr. Resham Batra, a pediatrician affiliated with Sharp Rees-Stealy Medical Group. “This approach may limit contact with the rest of the neighborhood.”

No matter how families choose to celebrate this year, the most important advice is to follow safety protocols.

“If trick-or-treating-type of activities are involved, it may be helpful to wipe down candy wrappers with a Clorox wipe,” says Dr. Batra. “And it is essential that everyone wear a mask, especially if the costume does not already have a mask.”

“Along with everyone wearing a mask, keep a distance of 6 feet or more, and use hand sanitizer, as required. Also, wash hands frequently and before eating any treats, and avoid touching your nose, mouth and eyes while out and about,” adds Dr. Safaya. “Halloween may look different this year, but there are ways to still enjoy this festive time safely.”

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