Halloween Safety Tips & Alternatives to Trick-or-Treating

Lucy Lazarony
November 4, 2020

It is the scariest night of the year but you want your children to be safe. Here are some tips to make Halloween night safe for everyone. Make sure all costumes, wigs and accessories are fire-resistant. If children are out after dark, fasten reflective tape to their costumes or give them glow sticks to carry. Always buy non-toxic Halloween makeup and test it in a small area first. Remove all Halloween makeup before children go to bed to prevent skin and eye irritation. When out in the neighborhood, an adult should accompany young children when they go trick-or-treating. So there are no surprises, agree on a specific time that children should be home. Children should travel in familiar, well-lit areas and stay with their friends.

Halloween with COVID-19

Celebrating Halloween is going to be different this year because of COVID-19. Here are some ways to stay safe and still have a spooky holiday. These tips are from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC).

Low Risk Activities

Here are some fun, holiday activities that are low risk and safe alternatives for families.

  • Carve or decorate pumpkins with members of your family and display the pumpkins. Carve or decorate pumpkins outside at a safe distance from neighbors and friends.
  • Decorate your house or apartment for Halloween.
  • Have a Halloween scavenger hunt. Give children a list of Halloween-themed things to look for as they walk the neighborhood and admire Halloween decorations from a distance.
  • Have a virtual Halloween contest. Host a Halloween movie night with the people you live with.
  • Trick-or-treat within your own house instead of going house to house.

Moderate Risk Activities

These are more moderate risk activities for Halloween during COVID-19.

  • Participate in one-way trick-or-treating. Individually-wrapped goodie bags are lined up for families to grab at the end of the driveway or the end of the yard, maintaining social distancing.
  • If you are preparing goodie bags, wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds before and after preparing the bags.
  • Have a small group, outdoor, open-air costume parade where people are distanced more than six feet apart.
  • Attend a costume party held outdoors where protective masks are used and people can remain more than six feet apart.

COVID Masks and Alternative Fun

A word about masks on Halloween. A costume mask is not a substitute for a cloth mask. A costume mask should not be used unless it is made of two or more layers of breathable fabric that covers the mouth and nose and doesn’t have gaps around the face.

Do not wear a costume mask over a protective cloth mask because it can be dangerous if the costume mask makes it hard to breathe. Instead, consider using a Halloween-themed cloth mask.

Go to an open-air, one-way, walk-through haunted forest, with appropriate mask use and remain six feet apart.

If screaming is likely, put in greater distances around others. The greater the distance, the lower the risk of spreading respiratory virus.

Visit pumpkin patches or orchards. Use hand sanitizer before touching pumpkins or picking apples. Wearing masks is encouraged and enforced and people are able to maintain social distancing.

Having an outdoor movie night with family and friends with people spaced at least six feet apart. If screaming is likely, put in greater distance around others.

High Risk Activities

Here are some high risk activities to avoid this Halloween. Avoiding these activities will help prevent the spread of the virus that causes COVID-19.

  • Traditional trick-or-treating where treats are handed to children who go door to door.
  • Trunk-or-treating, which is when treats are handed out from trunks of cars lined up in large parking lots.
  • Crowded costume parties held indoors.
  • Indoor haunted house where people may be crowded together and screaming.
  • Hayrides or tractor rides with people who are not in your household.
  • Alcohol or drug use, which can cloud judgment and increase risky behaviors.

How to Prepare for Trick-Or-Treaters

Here are some Halloween safety tips from the National Safety Council.

  • Get the whole family involved with making individual goodie bags with fun-sized candy.
  • Create and post signs in your yard encouraging trick-or-treaters to stay six feet apart.
  • Talk with neighbors about socially distancing options, such as placing decorated tables at the end of driveways so kids can grab candy for themselves.
  • Organize a virtual Halloween costume parade.

On the Move on Halloween

Carry a trick-or-treating care pack with hand sanitizer, disinfectant wipes and extra face masks. Use the hand sanitizer after picking up a piece of candy and help little ones clean their hands throughout the Halloween night.

  • Do mask checks. Stop in a safe place and make sure everyone’s masks are covering their mouths and noses.
  • Keep a six-foot distance from other groups of trick-or-treaters.
  • Respect the latest local guidelines such as trick-or-treating hours.

After Trick-or-Treating

  • Wash your hands with warm water and soap for 20 seconds when you return home from trick-or-treating.
  • Let the candy sit for 24 hours or sanitize the wrappers before eating.
  • Throw out any candy that’s open or has torn packaging, has an unusual appearance or pinholes. Toss away homemade items from people you don’t know. Follow the rule, when in doubt, throw it out.

When Giving Out Halloween Treats

Place wrapped treats on your lawn or in the driveway so trick-or-treaters don’t have to crowd around your front door, touch handrails and knock. Wear a face mask any time you’re outside and use hand sanitizer often. If you can, keep a large bottle of hand sanitizer nearby for trick-or-treaters to use.

How to Have Safe Costumes This Halloween

Here are some Halloween safety tips from the American Academy of Pediatrics.

  • Plan costumes that are bright and reflective. Consider adding reflective tape or striping to costumes and trick-or-treat bags for greater visibility.
  • Make sure shoes fit well and that costumes are short enough to prevent tripping, entanglement or contact with a flame.
  • Look for “flame resistant” on costume labels. Wigs and accessories should also be flame resistant.
  • Consider non-toxic makeup and decorative hats as safer alternatives to costume masks. Hats should fit properly to prevent them from sliding over eyes. Makeup should be tested ahead of time on a small patch of your child’s skin to ensure there are no unpleasant surprises or allergic reactions on Halloween. Toxic ingredients have been found in cosmetics marketed to teens and tweens. So read all labels carefully and monitor what makeup is being used by your teen or tween this Halloween.
  • Avoid any sharp or long swords, canes or sticks as Halloween costume accessories for your child. Your child can easily be hurt by these accessories if he or she stumbles or trips.
  • Do not use decorative contact lenses without an eye examination and a prescription from an eye care professional. While the packaging on decorative lenses may say otherwise, obtaining decorative contact lenses without a prescription is dangerous. Doing so could cause eye pain, inflammation and infections. So steer clear of decorative contact lenses unless you see an eye professional.

Keeping Halloween Safe for Little Ones

  • Have a backup costume ready in case there are accidents with diapers or spit up.
  • Never allow small children to carve pumpkins. Children can draw a face with markers. Then parents can do the cutting.
  • Consider using a flashlight or a glow stick instead of a candle to light your pumpkin. If you do use a candle, a votive candle is safest.
  • Do not place candle lit pumpkins on a porch or any path where visitors may pass close by. Never leave the pumpkins unattended.

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