5 tips to keep kids safe and healthy this Halloween

Go trick-or-treating without getting or spreading COVID-19 or the flu

Happy girl with artificial nails and witch hat followed by protective mask.

With another pandemic Halloween around the corner, families can make plans to stay safe and healthy during the evening’s festivities.

You can make your celebration safer by keeping a safe distance with trick-or-treaters, doing things like giving out treats outdoors, if possible, or setting up a station with individually bagged treats for kids to take.

Laura Whittington, D.O., a pediatrician at Sanford Health, shares some of her advice for parents of young children trick-or-treating this year.

Related: Find a pediatrician at Sanford Health

1. Mask up safely

There are lots of creative and colorful masks out there. Make your cloth mask part of your costume! Here are tips for doing it safely:

  • A costume mask is not a substitute for a cloth or surgical mask.
  • Do not wear a costume mask with a cloth mask. It can make breathing more difficult.
  • Masks should not be worn by children under the age of 2.

2. Walk this way

During the ongoing pandemic, it’s important to keep your distance. Stay in small groups and keep a safe distance from other trick-or-treaters or those handing out treats.

Another important way for kids to stay safe at Halloween is to be aware of car traffic — being street smart.

There are usually a lot of cars on the road on Halloween, especially with parents driving alongside their kids trick-or-treating, so those types of injuries do tend to happen.

  • Make sure your kids always look both ways before crossing a street and know when it’s safe to cross.
  • Carry a glow stick or flashlight.
  • Add reflective tape to their costumes to make them more visible.
  • Make sure the costume is a brighter color, and avoid black.

3. Be food safe

There are several things to keep in mind when it comes to food safety at Halloween.

  • Wash your hands before handling treats.
  • For young trick-or-treaters, parents should go through the candy that was collected and remove any of the harder, smaller candies that could present a choking hazard.
  • If younger children do receive smaller or hard candy, have them exchange it with older siblings or friends, so everyone gets something they enjoy and can eat.
  • Parents should also be looking to see if anything is opened, spoiled or homemade and throw it out. Make sure everything is pre-packaged.

4. Stay allergy safe

For kids with allergies to eggs, milk and peanuts — some of the most common, according to Food Allergy Research and Education — there are some things parents can do.

  • Parents should thoroughly examine their children’s candy and remove any that may contain traces of allergens.
  • People who hand out treats may consider taking part in the Teal Pumpkin Project. Instead of passing out candy, they pass out non-food Halloween treats and mark their home as allergy-friendly with a teal pumpkin in front.

5. Review stranger danger

Finally — and obviously — it’s important for children to stay in areas that are safe.

  • If possible, stick to neighborhoods you know.
  • Only go to homes with the lights on.
  • Never go inside someone’s house. Just politely decline if someone asks.
  • As a Halloween safety rule of thumb, kids under the age of 12 should always have a parent with them. If they’re over 12, make sure they have a buddy and a form of communication with them.

Even if you’re not going trick-or-treating this year, there are lots of other ways to celebrate with the whole family. See suggestions from Sanford Fit.

Information in this article was accurate when it was posted. As the COVID-19 pandemic changes, scientific understanding and guidelines may have changed since the original publication date.

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Posted In Children's, Coronavirus, Family Medicine, Flu, Parenting

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